New research has revealed that one in three men let themselves go when reaching middle age, blaming bad food choices, alcohol and stress. Sarah Blinco finds out what’s really at stake…
New research by Cambridge Weight Plan has revealed that one in five (20%) men stop caring about weight gain when they reach middle age and two-thirds (66%) do not feel any pressure to be slim. Health experts are urging men not to be complacent. It’s not just about weight gain — rarely are any of us expected to ‘look perfect’; rather, it’s the associated serious health conditions that develop as a result of weight gain that are of real concern.
International Slimmer of the Year entrant of 2019, Paul Averte tipped the scales at over 160kg last year. He says, “In one meal, I would have two bowls of pasta then have a bowl of salad thinking it was nutritious. I became so overweight that I developed sleep apnoea and suffered from severe back pain.”
Paul admits that he never really gave his weight much attention. “I was distracted by other aspects in life that I thought were more important like my kids, so I just accepted myself the way I was. When I’d look in the mirror, I never really saw my size. I focused on whether or not the clothes matched and looked good.”
“Weight gain that places someone in the category of overweight or obese, has serious consequences and needs to be taken seriously,” says counselling psychologist Grant Spencer.
This research found that 46% of men blame their middle age spread on bad food choices, 32% on alcohol and 29% on stress. Grant warns that we need to stop looking for excuses. “For middle age men, often other priorities like family and work are more urgent than focusing on themselves. Work and family are aspects of life you interact with all the time. Whereas things like self-care and looking after your body don’t seem urgent until the health implications start slowing you down. Exhaustion and a lack of energy are common symptoms of excess weight… More serious signs of deteriorating health due to weight gain are high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.”
Where to start then? Grant advises: “You must prioritise self-care which may mean making small sacrifices in the time you put into work and family. This can come with a lot of guilt, but it’s important to understand that your health and wellbeing directly impact your work, your family and your ability to care for them. That small shift in focus can help in starting the incremental change towards weight loss.”
Grant reminds us that diet is very important and contributes to 80% of weight gain. “In saying that, don’t completely restrict yourself from the foods you love, just have small portions throughout the day. Consider one-on-one guidance throughout the weight loss journey, which keeps you accountable. Exercise is also important. As little as 30 minutes a day of exercise is healthy and can go a long way, not only for weight loss, but psychologically as well.”