Newsroom

Are public attitudes stopping obese men from making healthy life changes?

1 August 2012

Public health campaigns designed to help overweight or obese men could be having the opposite effect, according to Deakin University health researchers.

With an estimated 68 per cent of Australian men overweight, honours student Kate Harding and researchers Dr Matthew Dunn and Dr Lisa Hanna from Deakin’s School of Health and Social Development want to know if obese men find that public attitudes to obesity, including those conveyed in health messages, hold them back from making healthy changes.

“Obesity is a complex condition, yet some obesity awareness campaigns may over-simplify the challenges faced by those who are obese. These messages may contribute to the obesity stigma felt by men by framing weight management as ‘easy’. This can contradict the reality that is experienced by some people,” student researcher Kate Harding explained.

“Men are influenced by social factors, such as feeling judged if they ask for help. There are also practical factors, such as the difficulty of taking time out to participate in healthier choices versus the necessities of life, such as going to work. Furthermore, some of the healthier options portrayed in health messages can cost money, and this can make men with lower incomes especially vulnerable.”

The researchers are calling for men aged 30—50 years with an income of $25,000 or below to take part in their study with the aim of identifying ways of making healthy weight campaigns and programs more appealing.

“We are keen for men to share their experiences with us,” Ms Harding said.

“The study is not a weight loss program, and we won’t be checking the weight of participants. We are asking for participants to set aside some time to discuss with us their perceptions of health messages and how these relate to their experiences with health activities such as going to the doctor, exercising or making dietary changes.”

Men who are interested in taking part in the study can contact Kate Harding on 0478 503 189 or email her at kehar@deakin.edu.au

News facts
  • Deakin research looking at the impact of public attitudes on obese men
  • Researchers want to find out if public messages, including those in health campaigns, are holding men back from healthy life changes
  • Results of the study will help develop health messages and programs that are appealing to overweight men

Media contact

Mandi O'Garretty
Deakin Media Relations
03 5227 2776; 0418 361 890
mandi.ogarretty@deakin.edu.au

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1st August 2012