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Two thirds of UK men classed as 'overweight or obese'

The nation’s obesity crisis has been highlighted with new figures that show that just a third of middle-aged British men are not overweight.

The figures show 68% of men are either overweight or obese. This compares to half (49%) of women, according to the Institute of Education, University of London.

After measuring the body mass index of almost 10,000 people in their early forties, researchers said that although men in this age group seemingly have more cause for concern about their weight, they are less likely to be worried about excess pounds than their female counterparts.

Three in 10 men who were overweight believed they were “about the right weight” compared to only 9% of women.

In addition, 41% of overweight men said they were making efforts to shed some weight compared to two thirds of women

Dr Alice Sullivan, from the Institute’s Centre for Longitudinal Studies, said: “People who are overweight or obese face a higher risk of many health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain cancers.

“But carrying excess weight is far more socially acceptable for men than for women, and men will not respond to health messages about weight and obesity if they do not recognise that they are overweight. This is a particular concern given that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for men aged 35 and over.”

The researchers also found that men and women born in 1970 are considerably more likely to be obese at age 42 than those born in 1958 were at the same age.

“People born in 1970 grew up at a time when lifestyles were becoming increasingly inactive and high-calorie convenience foods were widely available for the first time,” Dr Sullivan added.

“We know that both exercise and diet are important for maintaining a healthy weight. But our findings show that ready meals, frozen foods, and takeaways are popular with this generation, while nearly a third of women and a quarter of men do no vigorous exercise in a typical week.

“It may seem surprising that more men do vigorous exercise than women, even though they are more likely to be overweight or obese. This suggests that poor diet is a key factor affecting men’s weight in particular.”

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