Male Obesity – Is there any Support for Britain’s Overweight Men?
The fact that the UK is facing an obesity crisis isn’t really news. Sometimes, however, it seems that whilst there are many weight loss schemes for women, men who want to drop the pounds have been left on the side-lines. Is that really the case and, if so, why? What options are out there for men who’d like to lose weight and improve their fitness levels?
Male Obesity in the UK – How Much of a Problem Is It?
Figures released by the World Obesity Federation at the end of 2015 showed that 66 per cent of British men were overweight or obese, and that figure is set to rise to 74 percent by the end of 2030.
In comparison, 57 percent of British women were overweight or obese when the research was carried out, with this percentage likely to rise to 64 within the same period.
Whilst the figures for women are extremely concerning, the fact that so many British men are overweight suggests that there is a need for targeted male weight loss and weight management resources to help them.
Weight Loss and Weight Management – A Female-Dominated Industry?
Although many people say that “eating less and moving more” is the only solution for anyone who wants to lose weight, it’s often difficult to keep to diet and exercise plans. Finding the right programme and support is often the key to an individual dieter’s success.
While popular slimming groups, such as those run by Slimming World and Weight Watchers, are open to men, they are often seen as being almost exclusively female domains. In 2014, Professor Alison Avenell, of Aberdeen University, told the Telegraph that “dieting is seen as a feminine activity”.
“Many commercial weight-loss programmes focus on diet, have up to 90 per cent women attending and don’t provide access to physical activity programmes. So these aren’t likely to appeal to men,” she added.
According to Andrew Shananan, it was just this type of experience that drove him to set up Man V Fat:
“My experience of trying to get support for my weight loss was sitting in a Weight Watchers meeting while the leader told the class that “during your time of the month you’ll get fluctuations in your weight so don’t worry if you gain! I was (fairly) sure that wasn’t my issue and it got me wondering – how many other men out there are struggling just to find some help with their weight loss?”.
What Male Weight Loss Support Options Exist in the UK?
Men who are trying to lose weight often want to be part of a supportive community as much as women, but traditional slimming clubs frequently fail to meet their needs. Whilst many men have no intention of training to become elite athletes who are capable of winning medals and trophies, schemes involving exercise are also often more appealing to them than those involving diet alone.
According to research carried out by Glasgow University in 2011, the 374 men participating in a 12-week male-only fitness programme run by the Scottish Professional Football Association, Football Fans in Training (FFIT) “lost on average 4.94 kg more than those who were simply given a weight management booklet”, so joining dedicated male weight loss and fitness programmes or support groups can help.
Man V Fat, one of the best-known groups, is a free-to-join online weight loss community for men, with more than 34,500 users. The site includes a wealth of information for men who want to become healthier, including weight loss stories, tips, health check tools and a forum where members can cheer each other on and get advice.
The organisation also runs some highly successful weight loss schemes, including the much-lauded Man V Fat Football League, a 14-week programme which was piloted in Solihull at the beginning of this year. It has already been replicated across the UK. The key to the scheme’s success is that league positions depend on the number of pounds shed by the members of each team, as well as their on-pitch performances.
“We figured out pretty early on that weight loss counted just as much as the football if you wanted to win the league,” Marcus Farnsworth, who lost 67lbs after joining the scheme, told The Telegraph.
“In our groups and at the games, we would all talk about what people were eating and drinking and we’d push each other to make healthy choices and give each other advice,” he said.
According Man V Fat, nearly 95 per cent of players lose weight, so clearly they are doing something right.
Have you lost weight using a men-only support group? Tell us about your experiences below, or join the conversation on Twitter or Facebook.