Overweight men, no thanks, too girlie

Research from this year has found that the number of men who engage in UK National Health Service weight loss services is low. But why?

Evidence shows that men who do participate in weight loss programmes tend to lose as much, or more weight than women. But there’s a big barrier to men even getting there. This study looked at men’s experiences and expecations of mainstream weight loss services in the UK (following referral from a medical professional). 

Results found that fear of poor health outcomes motivated them to join the services, but that some were put off because they perceived them to be “female dominated” and “incompatible with existing services for men”.

Authors say; “A medical diagnosis or referral serves as a strong motivator for men to engage with weight loss services by invoking fear of negative consequences of not losing weight. Men perceived weight loss services to be feminised spaces, in which they felt self-conscious and out of place. As a result, men were deterred from engaging and considered their options were limited. Implications for service design and commissioning are discussed. Involving men in research, service design and evaluation is key to improving their engagement and weight loss.”

Time to find somewhere they can offer men-tailored advice, in a man-friendly environment? Time for all-male weight loss focus groups?  Why not partner up with some male friends, or ask about local weigh loss groups with a good number of men?

Reference: Elliott, M., Gillison, F. & Barnett, J. 2020, “Exploring the influences on men’s engagement with weight loss services: a qualitative study”, BMC public health, vol. 20, no. 1, pp. 249-11.

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