Men are eating more and exercising less, creating 'a ticking time bomb' for their health, says the British Heart Foundation
British men weigh a stone heavier than they did in 1986
The Guardian, Monday 27 December 2010
British men weigh a stone heavier than they did in 1986, a new study has found. Photograph: Dan Lamont/Corbis Britain's festive traditions of stuffing, pudding and booze may not have changed much since 1986, but the physique of those consuming them certainly has. The average British man piled on more than a stone in weight between 1986 and 2000, according to new research.
A study published by Oxford University reveals a remarkable level of weight-gain among men who are eating more and exercising less.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF), which funded the study, described it as evidence of a "ticking time bomb for male health" that would lead to a greater risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Scientists analysing changes in food consumption found that an increase in food intake over the 15-year period studied accounted for a 4.7kg (10.4lb) increase in the average male's weight. The actual observed increase of 7.7kg (17lb) was much more than expected from the extra calories consumed, and partly explained by a reduction in physical activity.
The study found that in contrast to weight gain among men, the increased weight of women during the same period – 5.4kg (12lb) – is entirely explained by the fact they are eating more.
More than half of all adults are currently either overweight or obese.
Twenty-five per cent of men in England were classed as obese in 2008, the most recent data available, compared with only around 7% in 1986-07.
The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, speculates that "sedentary behaviour" such as watching television may be on the increase.
Dr Peter Scarborough, who led the research, said: "There could be a number of reasons for the reduction in exercise. One partial explanation could be that men spend more of their working lives sitting at desks now – manual careers are less common than they used to be.
"We looked at how much food was available over time, accounting for food that is wasted or thrown away. It is clear people are eating more, and today we are seeing a continued increase in the amount of food available."
Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, said that women were more conscious of their weight, but the problem of obesity was unlikely to go away. "The real problem is the adult [obesity] situation is going to get worse because not enough is being done to address the issue. Until there is some legislation or regulation about the amount of fat, sugar and salt that goes into processed food we are not going to see an end to obesity."
[Or unless there is a food shortage. -WVNS]
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