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The Nutrition and Health Foundation urges Irish men to wake up - new research shows that Irish men are less motivated to lose weight despite the evidence that they are significiantly more over weight than Irish women

Thursday, 12 November 2009
New research* results released by the Nutrition & Health Foundation today, Thursday the 12th November shows that only 15% of Irish men compared to 31% of Irish women feel they would like to weigh ‘a lot less’. This is despite the fact that 2 out of 3 men are either overweight or obese (44% overweight and 22% obese) (SLAN, 2008). Although it is encouraging that overall 59% of the male and female respondents had taken action to try to lose weight in the past year. However mens’ perception of their ideal weight is a matter of concern with almost half believing they are about the right weight and therefore possibly placing themselves at risk of further weight gain and associated health problems. This may help explain why only 49% had tried to lose weight over the past twelve months as opposed to 69% of women. It is therefore important that greater efforts are made to educate men as to what constitutes a healthy weight.
Dr. Muireann Cullen, Manager of the NHF said ‘Our research has shown that that the desire to lose weight is certainly evident and attempts at weight control are common in the community. However, compared with overweight women, the overweight men in this study were less likely to report that they had a weight issue and were taking action to reduce their current weight. Subsequently, women also reported a significantly higher (42%) success rate at losing weight compared with only 29% of men.

For men who tried to lose weight, they were more likely to report exercising more, reduce/stop consuming fast foods and reduce/stop drinking alcohol as methods to aid weight loss compared to women.

Dr Cullen continued “Given the current emphasis on promoting population-wide weight control as a means of preventing obesity, it is important to gain a better understanding of weight-related concerns, weight loss and weight maintenance practices amongst the population. This is especially important since the prevalence of obesity is increasing at a time when dieting and other weight control behaviour is widespread. The most effective way to lose weight and keep it off is to make positive long-term changes to your lifestyle, develop a healthy relationship with food, lead an active lifestyle and follow a balanced approach to living. There is an obvious need for more education, particularly for men, to ensure that healthy choices are easy and physical activity returns to being a normal part of everyday life.”

Obesity has become an extremely serious public health problem with obesity levels in Ireland rising every day. According to statistics drawn from the 2008 National Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition (SLAN survey) 38% of the population is currently overweight (BMI of 25 - 29.9) and 23% obese (BMI of 30+). Your BMI (body mass index) can be calculated using your weight and height. Use the NHF BMI calculator which is on our website (ww.nhfireland.ie) under the ‘keeping fit’ section. A healthy BMI is 20 – 25. With obesity’s strong links to many health problems, the costs associated with obesity will strain future health budgets. Urgent action on obesity is needed and this needs to extend beyond treatment. This research has shown that while diets may work in the short term, their long-term success is poor.

*The survey was commissioned by the Nutrition & Health Foundation and carried out on-line by Empathy Research among members of www.pigsback.com with a total sample of 1,163 respondents comprising of aged 18+ living in the Republic of Ireland.
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