Living with Obesity: men’s experiences of losing and gaining weight and the implications for policy and servicesDownload (PDF 2.14MB)
Summary of report content
This study from Healthwatch Essex investigates the weight loss and weight gain experiences of men living with obesity, through interviews with 29 adult men with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 30. The data collection took place following the outbreak of COVID-19, with 27 interviews taking place via telephone, and 2 via video call. Alongside the interviews, each participant also completed a survey providing their BMI or height and weight, and demographic information.
The study found that the type of support and weight loss strategies accessed by men plays a key role whether weight loss is successful. Weight-loss strategies built on collective action with other men and women were found to be more engaging than the female-centred group discussion element of conventional weight management programmes.
Commercial weight management programmes were found to often be ineffective, with men who attended them experiencing weight fluctuations rather than sustained weight loss. Many of the men who had attended one described finding it unsettling and a cause of further confusion to their relationship with food. Commercial weight management programmes seem to focus too much on behaviour and not enough on emotion as the cause for weight gain. This can also mean that when men gain weight, the experience cements in them deep-rooted fears that they lack the self-discipline to permanently lose weight.
The study highlighted specific key points in life when men appear likely to gain weight: early adulthood, becoming a father, the peak of working life, and career progression. The study also suggested that a key intervention point could be when men have recently finished, or are about to finish, regular participation in sport.