Even though men are more likely to be overweight than women, men are not getting the weight-loss services they need. Recent data from Britain is easily applied to the US, and around the world.
Using a Freedom of Information request, the Men’s Health Forum in Britain asked local authorities how many people had been helped by their weight-loss programs in 2013-2014. The results show 110,324 women as compared with 29,919 men, suggesting that a woman is 277% (3½ times) more likely to get help with weight loss than a man, according to a news release.
Two-thirds of men in Britain are overweight or obese as compared with 57% of women.
“These figures are pretty shocking,” said Martin Tod, CEO of Men’s Health Forum. “We want to see local councils making much bigger efforts to design their services to work for men. This is particularly important because men account for three-quarters of premature deaths from coronary heart disease—and middle-aged men are twice as likely as women to get diabetes.”
According to a recent publication from the Men’s Health Forum, How To Make Weight-Loss Services Work For Men, there are several reasons for the gender gap. These include poor advertising or marketing, services that are inappropriate or unattractive to men, and unsuitable venues or times.
Here is a summary of the highlights from the forum guide on what works with weight-loss for men:
1. Obesity prevention and treatment should take into account sex and gender-related differences.
2. Weight reduction for men is best achieved and maintained with the combination of a reducing diet, advice on physical activity, and behavior change techniques. Men prefer more factual information on how to lose weight and more emphasis on physical activity than women.
3. Men-only groups may enhance effectiveness. Group-based interventions should also provide some individual tailoring and individual feedback to male participants.
4. Weight-loss programs for men may be better provided in social settings, such as sports clubs and workplaces, which may be more successful at engaging men.
In general, men express a dislike of “strict” diets. Intermittent periods of dieting may be more effective for men than regular periods of dieting.
► Men particularly enjoy the use of pedometers to monitor their physical activity.
► Men prefer interventions that are individualized, fact-based, flexible, use business-like language, and include simple to understand information.
► Men are less likely than women to do well using the drug Orlistat to help long-term weight-loss maintenance.
► Men differ from women when it comes to encouraging them and maintaining participation in weight-loss programs. Men are significantly less likely than women to join a weight-loss program, but once recruited they are less likely than women to drop out.
► Middle-aged men in particular, are more motivated to lose weight once they become aware that they have a health problem, for example, being diagnosed as “obese” by a health care professional.
Understanding the health benefits of losing weight can act as a motivator for men, for example, knowing that weight loss may prevent the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus or that weight reduction may improve erectile function.