JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Battle of the belly

"Most men have weight loss on the list somewhere between cleaning the gutters and fixing the trampoline."

"Most men have weight loss on the list somewhere between cleaning the gutters and fixing the trampoline." Photo: James Brickwood

Here in Australia we have more land to roam and ocean to swim in than any other country in the world, but still our waistlines continue to bulge.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2012 based on self-reported BMI, 63 per cent of Australian males are overweight or obese. And Australian women? 48 per cent are overweight or obese. It's no longer a schoolyard taunt; it's a health fact – the  girls are faring better than the boys, and it's time to do something about it.

Here's the news, guys - a BMI of 25+ is considered overweight. So, if you are a 178cm man weighing 81kg or more (barring you're built like an NRL player with serious muscle mass), you are in the overweight category. Not many men realise they are in this category, but the measurements are standard and simple.

And let's face it - men have no excuse. Genetically, it's easier for men to lose weight, as men are more likely to build muscle due to much higher levels of testosterone in the body. And traditionally, men have held more physically active jobs than women, which means calorie burn throughout the day.

So why are women winning the battle of the bulge?


Given most men have weight loss on the list somewhere between cleaning the gutters and fixing the trampoline – they will get around to it one of these days.

Dr Wayne Dyer once said 'Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday and avoiding today,' and this quote holds true when it comes to weight gain and doing something about it. Men see the bulging waistline of today, but remember the glory years of school rugby and still think of themselves as somewhat fit, strong, or athletic.

Kathleen Alleaume, nutritionist, contributor to government health campaigns, and author of What's Eating You, notices the difference in her office every day. She said 'Women seek advice for a healthy lifestyle or disease prevention, whereas men procrastinate. They only come in when their doctor advises them to do so or something has gone seriously wrong with their health.'

Cultural expectations

Is it okay for us guys to be fat? From the Simpsons' Homer coupled with Marge to Family Guy's Peter and slim-Lois…to the movie Hitch (Kevin James anybody)? The Hollywood message is it's okay to be a big man; you can still get the slim, hot girl.

Even in the business world, it is likely people would be more accepting of a 120kg male chief executive than a similarly framed female leader.

'It's Not a Problem'

Male depression was a taboo topic just a few years ago. The 'I can deal with it' mentality persisted, but thankfully it's changing. Weight issues and depression are different, but the same 'I can handle it' mentality is what's deterring men's weight loss for one simple reason - men are less likely to seek out help. Overeating can be about feelings and emotions, and us blokes don't like to face up and talk about those things.

Chad Timmermans , a sport and exercise psychologist said: "Female body image has been researched for over 30 years whereas this subject is still new in scientific arenas as it relates to men. Women are more open with their feelings, so body issues are topics of interest in magazines, talk shows, and within blogs – women engage in such discussions. Men are exhibiting the same self-esteem and body image issues as women, but they are keeping them closeted."

Peer and Beer Pressure

Imagine a night out with mates, and you're the guy that says: "No beer and pub steak and chips for me,boys. I'm having the tuna nicoise with a soda water and lemon." Among women, this scenario might turn into chat about weight loss, dieting, feeling better, and emotional eating. But for the blokes, the ribbing would start right there.

Ultimately, the weight loss solution is an easy one for men, because it's a manly one – lift weights. Exercise more. Play fewer video games and eat less childish sugary snacks. Eat healthier meals with protein and vegetables.

Men, we all need to man up. Is it challenging? Yes. But a real man doesn't wait for a heart attack, diabetes, or a stroke before he takes action.

 Michael Jarosky is the founder of Droptober , a fundraising event in its second year aimed at helping people to lose weight throughout October.


79 comments so far

  • I beg to differ regarding 'blokey' culture (depending on how far you are from the city perhaps)... I think that it would be the case that if a the typical blokey, overweight, pub-crawling, beer-drinking straight male were to declare to his friends at the pub that he's committed to losing a few kilos and starting by taking a break from the parma for one night, he would be encouraged.

    However, as a young, fit, professional, living in zone one and working in Melbourne city... what would I know?

    Date and time
    September 26, 2012, 10:25AM
    • Your myopic assumption of rural/ regional men is as the perception persists more insular than those you refer to.
      Equally, an obese person would be encouraged to lose weight in 'the sticks'.
      But I'm just a fit,middle aged, retired woman living outside the 'zone' what would I know?

      What would I know?
      Date and time
      September 26, 2012, 11:39AM
    • BMI??

      Please don’t get me started on this false mechanism for defining if someone is overweight, or not.

      As soon as you have any additional muscle than average, you will struggle with the BMI scale. There are so many variables that render this measurement tool unreliable.

      Its a load of rubbish. Sure, there are far too many overweight Aussies around, though are there really 63% of all men falling in the category of overweight, or worse??

      Chris Steel
      Date and time
      September 26, 2012, 2:34PM
    • Broadly, I think the social side of treating fit and unfit people still has a way to go.

      I recently put hours in the gym and training to be really fit. From moderately overweight I went to totally fit. The amazing thing was that everyone would come up to say I looked "TOO THIN", but supposedly "You weren't overweight before". It got to a point where I wondered if I was anorexic or something (even though I did a weekly scales review with my trainer to confirm that I was in the right weight range).

      Date and time
      September 26, 2012, 2:59PM
    • Kris, sure a bloke would be encouraged but he'd still cop a ribbing. That's what blokes do.
      I think it's really a case of being a little bit thick skinned and not worrying about what others say. As far as where you live, I don;t think it matters, you still have bogans living in Zone 1,2 and 3 they just drink latte's rather than red bulls and drive vw's rather than fords.

      Gavin Large
      not in the zone
      Date and time
      September 26, 2012, 3:08PM
    • Fit, I think you make a good point about perception. Peoples' perception of what is overweight and what is healthy is completely skewed these days. People just don't realise what a healthy weight looks like anymore, and it starts from children. As kids we were all beanpoles and you just don't see as much of that anymore.

      Date and time
      September 27, 2012, 2:16PM
  • LOL! Oh, excellent. You've created a society of neurotic women who spend every day fretting about what others think of them and driving themselves to harmful habits, and you've decided that now it's the guys turn. No thanks. I'll just do my own thing and you can all vomit up your lunch in the bathroom in a desperate attempt to live up to some amorphous industry expectation. It's a great system you've got here, really.

    1. Create an idea that there's a problem.
    2. Elevate the importance of the issue.
    3. Watch ensuing social fallout.
    4. Write more articles about all the the issues that have been caused.
    5. Alter between telling people how to fix issue at point 1 with how to fix issues at point 3.
    6. Profit from doubled advertising clicks.

    Oh, I'm not overweight or obese. Perfectly healthy (and the right weight).

    Tim the Toolman
    Date and time
    September 26, 2012, 10:39AM
    • Tim the toolman, so naive.

      The desire to be slim and pretty is not a conspiracy of the Western media. Since the beginning of time, human beings have wanted to look as beautiful as possible. Read a little bit of history and find out about some of the shocking things people would do, all in the name of beauty. And stop blaming everything on the media. There is an inborn biological desire to be attractive. It's how we are born.

      expert on everything
      Date and time
      September 26, 2012, 6:25PM
  • I can't vouch for the truth of this, but I was told by a doctor during an insurance checkup that the figures on which these BMI figures are based, date from the 1950s. But surely there is a new normal now. I work out twice a week with a personal trainer, run or ride to work, cycle 40 or 50 km on the weekend, and run a sub-2 hour half marathon - but at 93 kg at a height of 1.86, apparently I'm overweight (and to NOT be overweight I would need to lose 6 kg). If the threshold of overweight is meant to be where risk to health starts, it's hard to see how I can be 6 kg into the danger zone.

    Date and time
    September 26, 2012, 10:39AM
    • I'm in the same boat as you - 1.88m tall, weighing 95-96 kg - Now I know I can lose some weight but I also lead a physically active lifestyle - trying to exercise 5-6 times a week is my goal. (50km return cycle to work, 2.5 km swim or 2 hours kitesurfing). My resting heart rate sits around 45 - 50 bpm. An army medic once told me that the BMI was developed on the basis of returned servicemen from WWII, who would have been slight anyway. Also, during those times people were generally shorter than they are today.

      At a work health check the assessor said the waist to hip ratio is a good assessment tool as is looks at how much weight you are carrying around your waist - anything over 1.0 is considered unhealthy for men. I was about 0.9

      The worst thing for weight gain is alcohol, soft drinks and juices - empty calories.

      My aim now is to avoid drinking during the week and limit my drinking to one day a weekend..

      But at the end of the day it's easier to make an excuse not to do the right thing, rather than actually doing it. Excuses are cheap whilst taking action is expensive!

      St Kilda
      Date and time
      September 26, 2012, 12:14PM

More comments

Make a comment

You are logged in as [Logout]

All information entered below may be published.

Error: Please enter your screen name.

Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

Error: Please enter your comment.

Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

Post to

You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

Thank you

Your comment has been submitted for approval.

Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

Featured advertisers
Executive Style newsletter signup

Executive Style newsletter signup The latest news delivered to your inbox twice-weekly.

Sign up now