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Weight Issues And Men - It's No Longer Just A Woman Thing

Aug 21, 2007
As a woman I am exposed to articles or discussions about weight on a daily basis.

Practically every magazine will have something about it somewhere and I've yet to meet a single female who is content with her size, shape or appearance. No matter how confident they may be there's always something they'd like to change and they don't mind discussing it

Not so men and boys.

Unfortunately for the male population there are very few magazines targeted at them which actually ever raise the issue, and this is a shame because the amount of overweight and obese boys has doubled in the past ten years.

The problem is fat boys tend to grow into fat men who have a tendency to die young, and many males either don't seem to realise this, or have a strange sense of complacency about it.

Being overweight is not just about being a target for cruel jokes and often having low self esteem, but also it's a health risk.

There has been a marked increase in eight and nine year olds being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in recent years and this can lead to blindness, heart disease and even amputation.

So what has caused this steep rise?

Two things - unhealthy junk food and lack of exercise.

Much of the blame can be laid at the feet of the advertisers who target young children. Their policy of catching them young to achieve brand loyalty for life is very effective as these children influence their parents shopping choices.

When you go into your supermarkets you will discover items are placed very strategically to encourage customers to buy, and many of the high sugar, high fat, high salt products are nicely stacked at either eye level, or at the end of the aisles where they receive maximum exposure.

Apparently for every one pound spent on advertising healthy food there's seventy-one spent advertising junk, and whilst new regulations now mean high fat, salt and sugar products can't actually be advertised to children, it doesn't make them any less available.

Often parents buy their children sweets and junk food to express love or as a substitute for something else, but in this age where the only thing the majority of children exercise is their thumbs on their Play Stations it's probably not such a good sign of affection.

They could infact be killing them with kindness. In extreme cases some doctors have even recommended children be taken away from their irresponsible parents for their own good. This may have helped the weight problem but I'm not so sure it did much for the child/parent relationships.

However, the only recognised test for obesity is the BMI (Body Mass Index) which considers the ratio between height and weight. In the case of children age is factored in as well.

If the result is 25-30 you are considered overweight. A higher result makes you obese or worse still, morbidly obese.

Since boys tend not to speak about being fat there are very few places to turn to get help if they are teased and feel unhappy about it. Lack of physical exercise both at home and at school increases the problem

Many schools now lack the facilities or staff to include the 2 hours physical exercise per week stipulated in the National Curriculum, and several Primary Schools get none at all. The only time the children have the opportunity to burn off calories is during break and playtime.

Outside of school children no longer seem able to play in the ways considered safe and acceptable a few years ago. It's very rare you see boys climbing trees in the woods, playing football in the streets or riding their bikes, and if you do when there are more than two or three together people often feel threatened and suspicious.

It's no wonder therefore boys turn to either food or drink for comfort or possibly to relieve the boredom.

Inevitably they get fatter which leads to more derision and unhappiness. People start to either ignore them or stare with a mixture of intrigue and disgust. They feel invalid.

As a comfort they turn to even more junk food and forget the exercise because by this stage it's probably too embarrassing, uncomfortable and painful to even attempt.

It's a vicious circle but can be broken.

Admittedly, being fat doesn't necessarily make people unhappy but it does make them unhealthy. I have friends who have wonderful bubbly personalities and are extremely large but they all have health issues.

As with most things in life though education is the key, and of course taking action.

If you want to lose weight and become healthier you need to use up more calories than you consume so you are faced with two choices. Either you eat a sensible healthy diet or you take more exercise - you choose.

Of course, the absolute best way is to do both. It's your life, make the most of it!
About the Author
Jean Shaw is the author of I'm Not Naughty - I'm Autistic - Jodi's Journey and Autism, Amalgam and Me - Jodi's Journey Continues.

Read more of her articles or visit her What a Slimming World blog
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