When it comes to getting support with their weight loss we strongly believe that men have been given a raw deal in the UK and that more should be done to help them. Heck, that’s why we exist! We’re starting to push this as an urgent issue and fortunately, we are finding that all of the local authorities we speak to are acutely aware that more is needed to be done to help men. That’s why we are insanely proud to announce that North Somerset have commissioned MAN v FAT to run some groups in the region and we’ve already begun recruiting men who want to lose weight and get healthy.
Sam Hayward is the council’s obesity specialist who commissioned the service:
“We are determined to help all of our residents to get healthy. Like many council we see much more uptake of weight management services by women than men but we know that doesn’t reflect the fact that there are men out there who are desperate to lose weight, so we needed to look beyond that. In line with the best practice guidelines we are working in partnership with MAN v FAT to provide more appropriate support to men. We see this as a great step towards helping all men to reach their health and weight goals and being a county that innovates when it comes to the services we provide our residents.”
Fortunately, it’s not just Sam who is on board with the idea that men need more support. Incidentally, one estimate puts the number of men who have been helped at less than 1,000. Given that 20.4 million men in the UK are now overweight or obese that figure is really quite stunning. We’re working with academics like Professor Alison Avenell whose research last year showed just how little help is out there for men. We’re also getting help from organisations like Men’s Health Forum and Public Health England who are with us in agreeing that this is a subject that needs pushing up the agenda (read Kevin Fenton’s thoughts on this from our interview last year).
So how will the MAN v FAT scheme work? For the first time when a GP is confronted with a man who needs to lose weight he will be able to offer his patient a custom-designed scheme that is tailor-made for men. The MAN v FAT Clubs are running in locations that are potentially more familiar to men anyway, such as sports clubs, including Weston-Super-Mare’s football club. At free weekly meetings men will weigh in and get a range of stats about their health – although weight and BMI are still the main metrics, these days men are demanding access to different indicators of their health, such as body fat percentage and muscle mass.
Rather than focusing on teaching men a particular diet – which Avenell’s research has shown is not what men are interested in – the MAN v FAT Clubs will focus on enjoyable physical activity as well as ways of changing behaviour such as setting goals, different methods of tracking weight and regular reviews which will allow men to make supported changes.
It’s no secret that there is an obesity crisis across the world which globally costs us $2 trillion every year to manage. We also know that a raft of measures must be taken to effectively combat the danger that it poses. It’s a scandal that men have been forgotten about for so long but finally we are starting to address that inequality and give men the support that they deserve.
As Martin Tod, CEO of the Men’s Health Forum has noted, unless something is done:
“men will continue to disproportionately suffer from avoidable disease and unnecessarily early death.”
The battle of MAN v FAT starts in North Somerset, but it’s coming soon to a location near you too.