Weight-loss schemes failing men

13/07/15 . News

Men are not getting the weight-loss services they need. Although men are more likely to be overweight than women, women are far more likely to get a place on a local authority weight-loss programme.

Using a Freedom of Information request, the Men's Health Forum asked local authorities how many people had been helped by their weight-loss programmes in 2013-14. The answer was 110,324 women but just 29,919 men suggesting that you're getting on more than three and a half times more likely to get local authority help with weight-loss if you're a woman than if you're a man.

The gap is even wider if you consider how likely men and women are to be overweight in the first place: 67% of men are overweight or obese compared to 57% of women.

'These figures are pretty shocking,' said Martin Tod, CEO of Men’s Health Forum. 'We want to see local councils making much bigger efforts to design their services to work for men. This is particularly important because men comprise three-quarters of premature deaths from coronary heart disease – and middle-aged men are twice as likely as women to get diabetes.'

How to… guide

According to a recent publication from the Forum, How To Make Weight-Loss Services Work For Men, there are several reasons for the gender gap including poor advertising or marketing, services which are inappropriate or unattractive to men and unsuitable venues or times. The guide pulls together the evidence on what works with weight-loss for men.

Martin said: 'the guide explains to commissioners exactly what works and what doesn't in designing weight-loss services that appeal to both men and women. For some men, the answer may be a male-only option but even more important is the need for male-friendly services all round.'

The Men’s Health Forum need your support

It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. So we’re asking.

In the UK, one man in five dies before the age of 65. If we had health policies and services that better reflected the needs of the whole population, it might not be like that. But it is. Policies and services and indeed men have been like this for a long time and they don’t change overnight just because we want them to.

It’s true that the UK’s men don’t have it bad compared to some other groups. We’re not asking you to ‘feel sorry’ for men or put them first. We’re talking here about something more complicated, something that falls outside the traditional charity fund-raising model of ‘doing something for those less fortunate than ourselves’. That model raises money but it seldom changes much. We’re talking about changing the way we look at the world. There is nothing inevitable about premature male death. Services accessible to all, a population better informed. These would benefit everyone - rich and poor, young and old, male and female - and that’s what we’re campaigning for.

We’re not asking you to look at images of pity, we’re just asking you to look around at the society you live in, at the men you know and at the families with sons, fathers and grandads missing.

Here’s our fund-raising page - please chip in if you can.

Registered with the Fundraising Regulator