With the launch of their new guide, Public Health England (PHE) and Men’s Health Forum suggest the following top 10 tips to help men lose the belly.

With the launch of their new guide, Public Health England (PHE) and Men’s Health Forum suggest the following top 10 tips to help men lose the belly.

Choose an opportune moment: overweight men are most motivated to lose weight following a health scare or the diagnosis of a weight-related health problem. Encouragement from a health professional at this point can make all the difference. This is also the time when family and friends are most likely to support and encourage a man to lose weight.

Focus on the concern that is most important to men: men prefer that programmes are overtly dedicated to improving health or fitness, rather than simply about losing weight.

Find the best setting: although, in general terms, men prefer NHS-provided weight-loss programmes to commercial programmes, their preference is for sessions to take place away from healthcare settings. Men prefer community settings such as their workplace or at the football club they support.

Make it clear that the programme has been designed with men in mind: both sexes appreciate knowing that health improvement interventions are “gender-sensitive”. It is possible to accommodate both male and female attitudes and aspirations within mixed sex programmes but men like to know that they are welcome and their needs have been accounted for.

 

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Adopt the most “male-friendly” approach: losing weight by dietary changes alone is stereotyped by many men as a female activity. Men are more likely to take part in weight-loss programmes that pay at least as much attention to physical activity as to dieting.

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Avoid what men don’t want: men don’t like “strict diets” and some men are anxious about looking too thin. It is important that programmes clearly are about improving “fitness” rather than becoming “slim”.

Remind men that they have a lot to gain: there are numerous health benefits associated with losing weight. It may be worth spelling out those health benefits in promotional literature, highlighting potential gains (feeling fitter, the possibility of coming off medication, reduced incidence of erectile dysfunction) rather than dwelling on the risks of not taking part.

Create the right atmosphere: humour, banter and camaraderie are important in keeping men engaged and in developing mutual support.

Share responsibility with male participants: men tend to believe that being overweight is a personal issue and that it requires individual action to tackle it. Men appreciate an individual plan and may enjoy taking personal responsibility for monitoring, and accounting for changes in their food intake and activity level.

Be encouraged that weight-loss programmes work for men: men are significantly less likely than women to join weight-loss programmes, but once recruited they are less likely than women to drop out and may do better at sticking to certain elements of the programme.