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- key facts on men and obesity

The Men's Health Forum in the United Kingdom has produced a Policy Document titled "Hazardous Waist?: Tackling the Epidemic of Overweight in Men". This document illustrates that ...

  • The prevalence of overweight in the population represents a public health problem of unprecedented seriousness.
  • The situation is of more pressing importance for men, in the straightforward sense that many more men than women are currently at risk. Already two thirds of men in England and Wales are overweight compared to just over half of women. If present trends continue, more than three men in every four will be overweight by 2010 and almost one man in three will be obese.
  • For physiological reasons, overweight men tend to accumulate fat around the abdomen. Abdominal fat is strongly associated with increased risk of the most damaging consequence of obesity, metabolic syndrome. According to the World Health Organisation definition, men are significantly more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome than women.
  • Men also have higher rates of the cancers most commonly associated with obesity (excluding those that only affect women) and are more likely to die earlier in life from heart disease or stroke - conditions which are strongly linked to being overweight.
  • Overweight causes or exacerbates numerous other health problems of various degrees of seriousness.
  • At its present level of prevalence, male overweight is very damaging to the national economy in terms of years of life lost, working days lost, and in terms of the cost of caring for those affected.
  • The pattern of the prevalence of overweight differs between men and women. There is a critical period in men's lives (when they are in their late twenties and early thirties) when they are at greatly increased risk of gaining weight. Women, on the other hand, tend to gain weight more evenly across their lifespan.
  • The pre-disposing factors for becoming and remaining overweight also vary between the sexes. Men know less about diet than women, and are more likely to drink alcohol to excess. Men are more likely to be physically active than women - but most are nevertheless nowhere near physically active enough to gain a health benefit. Men are less likely to be concerned about becoming overweight, more likely to fail to notice that they have gained weight, and more likely to deny that they have a problem once they are overweight.
  • There is very little developed knowledge about how to engage with men on the issue of weight and very clear evidence that most of the present support systems are failing to work with men effectively.

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