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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 May, 2003, 23:35 GMT 00:35 UK
Men 'happy with beer bellies'
Overweight man
Men appear happy to have big bellies
Men are quite content to have beer bellies, and do not worry about how much they weigh, a survey suggests.

Women do know what they should be eating - but continue to drink too much alcohol and eat too much junk food.

But they do eat more fruit and vegetables than men, and are less likely to eat red meat and fatty foods.

The Mintel study of almost 1,500 confirmed the problem of obesity in Britain, suggesting almost half of men and a third of women were overweight.

The truth is that men really do care
Dr Ian Banks, Men's Health Forum
The survey used Body Mass Index measurements, calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by the square of height in metres to measure obesity.

But there were some positive messages. The survey, carried out in 2002, found a slight decrease in the number of men eating chips and fried foods often, down from a third in 2000.

More men and women said they were aware they should be doing more exercise, with 27% admitting they knew they should do more, compared to 18% in 1996.

But the number who actually did exercise regularly barely changed during that period, with just three in 10 saying they took part in a sport or did some exercise at least once a week.

There was an increase in the number of respondents who drank more than eight units of alcohol each week - from 35% in 2000 to 40% in 2002.

And just over a third of those taking part in the latest study said they smoked, a similar proportion to that found in 1996 and 2000.

'Jolly fat men'

The survey also looked at regional health patterns and found Northerners took the least care of themselves.

Just under a third said they did not worry too much about their diets, compared to a third nationally.

And only 17% ate five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, compared with 24% across the country.

Dr Ian Banks, chairman of the Men's Health Forum, said he did not think the answers men had given to the survey told the whole story.

"Men will often say they aren't bothered about their weight. They feel they have to be 'jolly fat men'.

"But the truth is that men really do care, and they do listen to healthy-eating messages."

But Dr Ian Campbell, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, added: "Around 45% of men think they are overweight, and that's not far off the mark.

"Men are more aware of healthy eating messages than they used to be, but there is still this macho image."

Beer belly 'gene' found
08 Jan 03  |  Health
Body Mass Index
16 Jan 02  |  Health

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