There’s one thing that men really should be talking about – and that’s why we’re putting on more and more weight.
Men’s waistlines have been quietly expanding for years and we’re not doing anything about it.
Short term a poor diet and lifestyle can make you feel low, tired and depressed but long term being overweight makes you more likely to get cancer, heart disease and diabetes and can cut up to 10 years off your life expectancy.
Men are now more likely than women to be overweight, and shockingly, the latest figures show that one in four of us would now be classed as ‘obese’.
But why is this happening?
A new study claims that the masculine culture around eating and drinking was a big factor in the worsening problem.
‘Machobesity’ is the term coined by Slimming World, who commissioned the new research – with Ipsos Mori – into why men are piling on the pounds unabated.
While there’s always a need to be wary of a study commissioned by a commercial company – in this case the clear goal is to get more men to sign up for slimming classes – there are some interesting findings.
What ‘machobesity’ basically means within the context of this study is that the macho culture among men, which glorifies big portions of high-calorie fast foods and binge drinking, is making us unhealthy.
It’s considered manly to be able to eat a huge portions of grub Man vs Food style or swill down gallons of lager.
The study also found that high calorie, processed foods like pies, fried chicken, chips, ribs and fried breakfast were seen as ‘masculine’.
Interestingly the research showed that looking to manage your weight or go on a diet was considered ‘feminine’ and could explain why more men are overweight than women.
Lower calorie foods like yoghurt, Quorn and salads were considered ‘feminine’ in the study along with going for the healthy option when eating out or reading nutrition labels in the supermarket
Unsurprisingly the research found that overweight men were more likely to try to deal with things on their own and not ask for help – and considered worrying about their weight as feminine.
It took five-and-a-half years on average for the men in the study to first talk about their weight worries – and over six years to try and do something about it. That’s three times longer than women.
“While most overweight men say they do want to lose weight, this report suggests there is a cultural expectation that men should consume lots of processed and fast foods that are high in fat and calories and lots of alcohol – and this increases their chances of gaining weight,” said Dr Jacquie Lavin, head of nutrition and research at Slimming World.
“They also feel a social pressure not to seek support to lose weight. The average delay of six years typically sees men gain enough weight to go up several BMI points – increasing their risk of a range of serious health conditions.”
What the study also found was that physical exercise was seen by 72% of the overweight men as a ‘socially acceptable’ way to train, but the men said they would find it difficult or impossible to complete modest targets like running 100 metres without stopping (31%), doing 10 press-ups (35%) or swimming four lengths of a 25 metre swimming pool (29%).
Dr Lavin continued: “It’s unfortunate for men that the method of weight loss they see as most socially acceptable – physical activity – is also the hardest to achieve when you struggle with weight.
“People are also less likely to lose weight through physical activity than they are by making changes to their eating habits, though becoming more active is excellent for both physical and mental health and is very beneficial when it comes to weight loss maintenance.”
Taking small steps like talking to an expert or health advisor about your weight, removing some processed or high calorie food from your diet in favour of lower calorie whole foods or just being more active can help you take that first step to losing weight.
Most importantly of all, gents, you need to know that most men seem to share a natural fear of talking about health concerns, and in any group of mates, someone needs to take the plunge and be the first to talk about it so that it becomes a normal thing to talk about.