Men Reveal Key Drivers for Engaging with Weight-Loss Programmes

Author: Nottingham Trent University

Date: Jul 2013

Fear of ill-health and loss of body function are two of the key drivers for men who choose to engage with weight loss programmes, a new study has revealed. Researchers at Nottingham Trent University investigated which factors encourage and deter men in Nottingham from accessing such programmes – and found that many males are concerned about their weight, health and appearance.

The study, funded by NHS Nottingham City (Public Health) showed that men who took action were also keen to increase their life expectancy and avoid becoming a burden to their loved ones.

Men particularly enjoyed the exercise component of programmes and the benefits they saw in simple aspects of their everyday life, such as being able to bend down to tie their shoelaces, climb the stairs easily and fit into clothes more comfortably.

They were also able to overcome hesitancies around attending female-dominated programmes, thanks to a feeling of ‘team spirit’ and everyone being in the same boat.

The study involved experts from the university’s School of Social Sciences and School of Science and Technology, along with researchers from Leeds Metropolitan University.

It focused on men in the ‘Motivate’ programme – a service aimed at men run by Notts County FC Football in the Community, in conjunction with Nottingham CityCare Partnership – and Slimming World groups and referral scheme.

The research team collected and analysed client satisfaction questionnaires and conducted in-depth interviews with the men.

The findings of the one-year study will be used to develop ways to encourage more men in Nottingham to engage with weight-loss programmes and other health promotion initiatives.

It is anticipated that by 2020 41% - or more than 55,000 – men in the city will be obese. Being obese at 40 is known to reduce life expectancy by almost six years.

The study also involved assessing body weight, predictors of dangerous body fatness, cardiovascular fitness and flexibility of men over the course of the 12 week programmes. Findings showed that for men who completed the ‘Motivate’ programme there were significant improvements in all areas, with an average weight loss of almost 10kg and a drop in waist circumference of more than 6cm. Participants were able to walk an average of 70m further during a six minute walk test, and improve almost 6cm in a ‘sit and reach’ exercise.

Dr Sarah Seymour Smith, a psychologist in Nottingham Trent University’s School of Social Sciences, said: “Obesity is a major problem both in terms of health and expense. In order to tackle it we need to know what men get out of engaging with weight-loss programmes. This study has provided us with some crucial information which could be utilised by professionals in future health promotion materials.”

Professor Brendan Gough, of Leeds Metropolitan University, added: “It was interesting to note that men cared about their appearance, health and the importance of accomplishing everyday tasks.

Before losing weight, they felt uncomfortable in their clothes, were very body conscious, and lacked confidence but losing even a modest amount of weight provided a great boost to self-esteem, personal relationships and wellbeing.

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Last revised: 16 July 2015

Next review: 16 July 2018