Men blind to obesity health risks, difficult target for slimming products

Related tags Cent Obesity Overweight and obesity

Makers of weight loss products are failing to reach the biggest
group of overweight people - men.

While almost all diets and weight loss products are targeted at women, more men are overweight, reveal new figures from the UK, yet most do not recognise the risks or feel enough concern to change their size.

About two thirds of men (65 per cent) currently have a body mass index of more than 25 compared to just over half of women (55 per cent), found a survey by the Men's Health Forum​, a British charity that campaigns to improve health among men.

And this gap is set to widen in the future if current trends continue unabated. Three quarters of men will weigh too much by 2010, compared to just under two thirds of women (64 per cent), according to the organisation.

But men seem to be in denial about being obese. While 60 per cent of women are said to be on a diet at any one time, nearly 90 per cent of overweight men say they would not go to a slimming club. More than half say they would not consult their family doctor.

The MHF says that health messages about weight loss are almost all geared to women and this approach does not connect with men, who have different values.

For example, in the MHF survey of 1,028 men aged 16-64, only 39 per cent of the men who believed themselves to be overweight said that long-term health risks would be a motivator for weight loss.

But more overweight men (43 per cent) said that physical appearance or reduced ability to 'chat someone up' would motivate them to lose weight.

Although a large majority of men (over 80 per cent) know that being overweight is associated with heart disease and high blood pressure, fewer understand the links with other significant health problems. Only 63 per cent know that being overweight is linked to diabetes and joint problems and just 32 per cent are aware of the link with erection problems.

"Men need to be made more aware of the health implications of excess abdominal fat, or central obesity, and how to lose weight,"​ warned Dr David Haslam, chair of the National Obesity Forum.

Reducing waist size alone can lead to significant improvements in health, he added.

As part of this week's Men's Health Awareness Week, the MHF will launch a policy document outlining the key contributing factors to male overweight and obesity and calling for action from politicians and healthcare providers to help avert a public health crisis.

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