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MHW 2005: Three-quarters is too many!

For Men's Health Week 2005, the Forum has put together a consensus statement with other interested organisations on the issue of excess weight in men and proposals for the solution. If you agree with the work the MHF are doing, please sign your organisation up too. You can do that with one click at the bottom of this page.

The statement was launched at the Hazardous Waist conference which kicked off Men's Health Week 2005 and is reproduced in full below. Scroll down to download all the conference papers.


Three Quarters Is Too Many

Men who are overweight or obese are significantly more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer and a range of other health problems. The present situation is nothing less than a public health emergency. Already two out of three men are overweight or obese - if current trends continue it is estimated that as soon as 2010 this will increase to three quarters of the male population.

We believe it should be the goal of health practitioners and decision-makers across the whole spectrum of public policy that we should halt the rise in overweight now, so that this wholly undesirable milestone is never reached. If we do not take urgent and concerted action, men will continue to die prematurely, and very large numbers will not experience optimum health and well-being.

At a minimum, the following five actions are required:

  1. Politicians, policy makers, practitioners, the media and the public need to recognise that weight is a male issue too. The popular assumption that weight loss is predominantly a female concern may be the most important reason for lack of progress on this issue. This assumption almost certainly results in inadequate support for men and may generate a sense of resigned acceptance among those concerned with improving public health. Most of all, it perpetuates a myth which affects men themselves. These attitudes must be replaced with an acceptance of the central importance of this issue for the future well-being of the male population - and a positive willingness to meet the challenge head on.
  2. It is important to understand male attitudes and behaviour in relation to weight and weight loss. There is currently a major absence of knowledge about these matters. At the same time, it is clear that the existing, broadly "unisex", approach is failing men. Developing a better understanding is therefore vital. Unless this happens, men will continue to gain weight and will remain resistant to support services. Achieving such an understanding will require a comprehensive and dedicated national research programme.
  3. There must be investment in new "male sensitive" approaches, particularly in primary care and health promotion. There is an increasing recognition that men can be persuaded to take their health seriously provided they are approached in the right way. A step change might be achieved by simply making routine health checks (weight, waist circumference, blood pressure, blood cholesterol etc.) more widely and easily available (i.e. not just in clinical settings), and by promoting that availability in a way that will encourage male take-up.
  4. It is essential to develop work on weight issues with boys in pre-school, schools and community settings. This is important, not just because of the increasing levels of overweight and obesity in children, but also because the establishment of a healthy lifestyle before adulthood is likely to reduce the risks of later becoming overweight. As in the case of adults however, attention must also be paid to attitudes and behaviours specific to boys and to developing interventions that are more likely to appeal to them.
  5. Ultimately, a wide-ranging national strategy on overweight and obesity must be developed. It is not enough to concentrate solely on solutions targeted at individuals, important though these are. Likewise, the problem cannot be solved by acting just within the field of health. The problem of overweight and obesity can be tackled effectively only by "joined-up" action. Most importantly, such a strategy should take central account of the differences between the sexes in order to benefit both men and women.

Arguments in support of the actions recommended in this Consensus Statement are made in the National Men's Health Week 2005 Policy Document, Hazardous Waist? Tackling the epidemic of excess weight in men, which can be downloaded here.

Supporters of the statement

The following organisations already support and endorse the Consensus Statement. You can add your support by following the links below. 


Men's Health Forum

All the downloads you need:

  • Download Consensus Statement as a PDF
  • Sign up to the Statement either by downloading an agreement pro forma and signing and posting/faxing it to us or, even more simply, just Click here to email your organisation's support. Make sure you include full contact details including address, phone number and your name and position in the organisation.
  • Download the Hazardous Waist conference 'workbook' including abstracts and speaker biogs here.
  • Download the full National Men's Health Week 2005 Policy Document, Hazardous Waist? Tackling the epidemic of excess weight in men  here.



Page created on June 13th, 2005

Page updated on September 17th, 2010