Midlife Obesity in Men – Ways to Win the Fight
For some mystifying reason, publicly talking about dieting was more typically seen by society as a female-focused area with the weight of diet and fitness articles geared towards titles that included “bikini bodies”, “toning legs” and similar themes.
However, the statistics that apply to middle-aged men in Western countries are truly alarming and suggest that far more attention should be paid to male diet and lifestyle including healthy diet plans, evidence-backed weight loss programmes and best workouts for middle aged men.
Of course, most middle-aged men are capable of either clicking away from diet and fitness articles like this one that challenge their assumptions about their health, so here’s our challenge: find out just how many men in your age group are above their ideal weight and how to actually make strategies to lose weight work.
Stats That Matter
Most men who follow sport are able to quote statistics as though they are the birth dates of their children. These statistics could be the averages of the opening batsmen of their national team or the defensive statistics of the backline of the football team they support. But here are some other statistics that matter for men in Western nations:
- Only 4 in 10 men aged 25-34 are considered a normal, healthy weight.
- That number falls to just 3 in 10 considered a healthy weight when the age rises to 35-44.
- Ready for the really scary part? Only 2 in 10 blokes aged 45-54 are at a normal, healthy weight. A whopping 80% are outside what the medical profession deems to be healthy.
So what do those stats tell us? First of all, it’s obvious that maintaining a healthy weight becomes harder as men age. An extra 10% of men fall outside the healthy weight range for every ten-year increase in age. It’s also fairly likely that most people who are in the “overweight” category in one age range will just migrate to continuing to be overweight in the next age range.
Luckily, there now appears to be a trend with all of these age groups that show that men are actually doing something about it.
Men Taking Charge
Whether it’s the fact that men can now pick up their phones and find out the kind of information that only doctors could provide previously, or that there is much more focus out there in the media about men’s health issues through dozens of worthy causes, the act of personally taking charge seems to be taking off.
This can be seen in the increased number of diet and fitness articles, books and TV shows focusing on male diets that actually work long-term. The Fast Diet and The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet popularized by Dr Michael Mosley are two examples that have received plenty of attention from regular guys all over the world for the diets’ common-sense, no fad approach to getting healthy and losing weight as a result.
Men also see fasting as a clear solution to losing weight in a way that works for them. There are many ways to fast effectively, but the appeal for men seems to be the challenge element that comes with it. Pitting only one’s own willpower against food cravings with the goal of “winning” the day rather than just losing weight seems to be an interesting behavioral way to tap into the natural competitive instincts of all men. This can also be supplemented if two or more friends with the same goals take part in the challenge, in much the same way as when a lot of men train together.
The simple act of making a person publicly accountable for their own internal goals has been shown to have huge effects on actually getting to those goals. For example, joining a gym and setting the goal of losing 10 kilograms but only having that as an “internal” goal is likely to fail. But writing that goal down and displaying it in a public place where others can see it, or committing to a bet with two other mates with the same goal that the person who achieves it first will get free tickets to the football, puts the rates of success through the roof.
Owning and committing to goals in front of others, whether that’s to get abs once over 40 or getting fit at 45, works.
Why Do Men Stop Working Out?
In the late teenage years and 20s, men have no trouble working out, playing team sport and generally keeping fit, at least in a physical sense. All that activity makes up for a generally poor diet higher in meat and alcohol than is probably ideal.
It’s when the activity level drops off, but the poor diet remains that the weight gain starts to add up bit by bit. Studies show on average that middle-aged men will put on about half a kilogram every year from their 20s.
As men leave their youth, working later at their jobs, taking kids to and from sport and music practice, tiredness and other time thieves rob them of the ability to set aside gaps in their schedule to look after their bodies.
Food choices and diet lapses also follow on. That’s why overall lifestyle programmes like Mosley’s or the standard two days of fasting per week are so attractive to many middle-aged men. They set clear targets to hit, and in the case of fasting are aimed at just a couple of times a week to get that sense of satisfaction that comes from task completion.
Making Man Diets Work
Although it took a while, lifestyle and diet changes for men are now easily found and are being looked at by a mainstream audience of middle-aged men who want to take charge and not drift into middle-aged obesity. Combining those tips with some simple behavioural hacks like being publicly accountable for goals that are set can turbocharge those results.