27/12/2010

Expanding waistlines of the 'Jim Royle generation'

ChipsNew research reveals men piled on more than a stone between 1986 and 2000.

The average man in the year 2000 was a belt busting 7.7kg heavier than he was in 1986, new research shows.

There were two reasons for the male weight gain, conclude the researchers. This 'Jim Royle generation' ate more calories than men in 1986, and they also did less exercise.

BHF-funded scientists from Oxford University ran a detailed project to analyse changes in food consumption and body weight over the 15-year period.

They found the average man in 2000 ate enough extra food to make him 4.7kg heavier than his forebear, in theory.

But the actual difference of 7.7kg was too much to blame on diet alone, says the research, and must also be down to a less active lifestyle.

This research suggests a ticking time bomb for male health.

Oxford’s Dr Peter Scarborough, who led the research, said:

“There could be a number of reasons for the reduction in exercise. One partial explanation could be that men spend more of their working lives sitting at desks now – manual careers are less common than they used to be.

“We looked at how much food was available over time, accounting for food that’s wasted or thrown away. It’s clear people are eating more, and today we’re seeing a continued increase in the amount of food available.”

Dr Mike Knapton, our Associate Medical Director, said:

“Obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and stroke and contributes to premature death and poor quality of life. The number of obese men is not going down.

“This research suggests a ticking time bomb for male health, and underlines the importance of both regular exercise and a balanced diet in keeping your weight down and your heart healthy."

The research was published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

25 per cent of men in England were classed as obese in 2008, the most recent data available, compared with only around 7 per cent in 1986/7.