Men's Health Week 2017: Most local weight management services still failing men
In a new study released for Men’s Health Week, the Men’s Health Forum has identified that local weight management services are still failing to effectively reach and engage with men - although there are exceptions.
Men are more likely to be overweight or obese than women – and more likely to suffer complications such as diabetes. Despite this, in a sample of 90 English local authorities who responded to an FOI request, only 23% of people accessing local ‘Tier 2’ weight management services were men – although the figure varied between 8% and 48% where authorities had taken concrete steps to make their programmes suitable for men. Around half (46 out of 90) were taking initiatives to reach and engage men more effectively.
Martin Tod, Chief Executive of the Men’s Health Forum commented:
“Men are more likely to be overweight, more likely to face health problems such as diabetes because they are overweight, and less likely to get support to tackle their weight problems from health professionals. And when they are offered help, there are still too many services that don’t reflect the latest research on how to engage men and don’t meet their needs.
“It doesn’t have to be so bad. For example, Derby City Council is taking the challenge of engaging men more seriously – and as a result, 48% of the people accessing their weight management services are men. There’s plenty of research out there to show what needs to be done.
“Our goal for Men’s Health Week 2017 is to help more men take action to address their weight problems, but also to get more services in place that are designed to work for men.”
Activities run by authorities with good use of services by men, such as Derby City Council (which has the highest proportion of men using their services in the country), include:
- Single-sex activity sessions
- Targeted advertising for men and women using different messages
- Social media insights to promote gender-specific activities
- Joint activities with Derby County Football Club focusing on men’s health issues
A surprising number (24%) of local authorities providing services still aren’t tracking the gender of people who use their services. A small minority of authorities didn’t even know how many people had accessed services that they had commissioned.
Men’s Health Week 2017 – which runs from June 12 to 18 – is themed around the problem of abdominal obesity – or ‘belly fat’ – with men being challenged “Do YOU have a hazardous waist?”.
The Men’s Health Forum, which organises the week:
- has provided materials to enable people to set up events around the country
- is running an active social media campaign
- is launching new research into the provision of weight management services to men – and the rate at which men are referred to them