Obesity levels are soaring - a report from the charity Weight Concern reveals that rates have trebled in the last 20 years; obesity now affects about 20% of the UK population and over half of the population are overweight. According to a government report on obesity, in Britain 17 per cent of men are clinically obese, compared to 20 per cent of women. And 61 per cent of men are officially overweight, compared to 57 per cent of women. For the first time, the number of overweight men in the UK now exceeds the number of overweight women.
Fewer than one in 100 men go to slimming clubs. Obesity expert Dr Ian Campbell has launched Fatmanslim (www.fatmanslim.com) Britain's first weight loss programme specifically for men. Dr Campbell says inactivity is one of the main reasons for the rise in obesity. He says: 'Forty years ago the average man would walk the equivalent of a marathon a week. Today's man hardly does a thing.' This problem is also even more worrying in our children. Many no longer walk to school, most children, notably boys, watch the television or computer screens for hours every day and few do regular sporting activity.
1. Realise it's your problem too.
Men are notorious for neglecting their health and few see their GP unless forced by their partners. Dr Campbell says: 'Women are the driving forces behind men's health. Men often aren't as bothered about their weight as women and won't do something about it until they are told they have a health problem, like high blood pressure. It's up to women to take the iniative.' Do be subtle though. Men can be become very stubborn if they think they're being nagged. You'll get the best results if he thinks it was his idea.
2. Work out how overweight your man is
Chances are you'll be able to guess by the bulge of his belly but working it out scientifically will give him the best goal to work towards. It may also hit home that it is a serious problem that needs to be tackled.
Calculate his Body Mass Index (BMI) by dividing his weight in kilograms by his height in metres (eg 98kg divided by 1.8m = 54.44) Then divide the result by the height in metres again (eg 54.44 divided by 1.8m = 30.2) If the BMI is 25 or greater your man's health is at risk. A BMI of over 30 is obese and over 40 is severely obese.
3. Measure his waist
It's vital to measure his waist as the risk of coronary heart disease increases if it's over 94cm (37 inches). Men typically put weight on around the waist. Carrying fat here is linked with the furring-up of arteries that causes heart problems.
Measure your bloke's waist one centimetre below the belly button when he has just breathed out slowly. Check he's not holding his belly in.
4. Lead by example
It's always easier to lose weight if there are two of you. Make a joint pact to get fit together. Don't order him to do 50 press-ups while you lie on the sofa. Find you enjoy doing as a couple.
Dr Campbell says: 'Women need to be positive for their men rather than focusing on the negative. They need to make it clear they are sensitive rather than judgemental.'
5. Make low-fat food taste good
Reduce saturated fats in what you eat and cut out all snack foods immediately. Fill up on fruit and vegetables and use spices and herbs to give a richer taste to low-fat foods.
6. Forget counting calories
You both have to be realistic otherwise you'll still be in the same position this time next year. Ideally your man should take in 500 fewer calories per day to lose weight. But how many of us know how much 500 calories is?
Dr Campbell says the best way to lose weight is to reduce what you eat in one day by one-fifth
7. Make sure he eats breakfast - but not a fry-up
Breakfast will power him until lunch and help fight the mid-morning urge to snack. Encourage him to eat cereal, and toast with low-fat spread, not butter. He should eat regular meals, filling up in carbohydrate (pasta, potatoes, rice, bread) and cutting down sugar and fat.
8. Get moving
There's no point joining a gym with the intention of sweating it out three times a week if your man has no intention of going.
The golden rule is to improve your activity levels on a daily basis - put simply, get moving.
Dr Campbell says: 'We have such sedentary lives nowadays so you have to take every opportunity to be active. Get off the bus stop one stop early and walk. Walk to the local shop rather than take the car. Or park at the far end of the supermarket car pack. It all adds up and makes a difference.'
9. Get your man to cut down on alcohol
Drinking low-calorie soft drinks between pints will reduce alcohol - and calorie - intake. The body processes alcohol before all other calorie sources, so anything he eats around the time he's drinking is more likely to become fat.
On a night out together ask him to drive so he won't be tempted to indulge.
10. Get him to read this feature
There's only so much you can do for him - he has to do some work too!
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