Male Health News April 2015

Controversy over exercise’s role in tackling obesity

Exercise has minimal impact on obesity, say experts.  Instead, people should focus on eating a healthy diet to tackle obesity.

As reported on the BBC yesterday, “three international experts said it was time to ‘bust the myth’ about exercise” in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The authors (Dr A Malhotra, Dr T Noakes and Dr S Phinney) argue that exercise cannot be used to offset poor diet and eating habits, particularly diets high in sugar and certain carbohydrates.  This is contrary to some common perceptions that people can eat what they like as long as they remain active.  While exercise is vital to maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce the risks of a range of health conditions, the authors argue that this will not prevent or reduce obesity.  Instead, the authors urged that obesity must be tackled primarily through diet.

In line with other stories and information from the Blue Ribbon Foundation, this news makes clear that staying healthy requires men to keep active as well as maintaining a balanced diet.  Why not try for a two-for-one?  How about a jog to your nearest grocer and picking up something healthy for dinner?

(24th April 2015)


Don’t forget Men’s Health Week, 15th – 21st June!

Men’s Health Week 2015 is now just two months away.  The Week is from the 15th to 21st June and will focus on healthy living, challenging men to:

  • Look after their relationships and wellbeing
  • Not smoke
  • Drink sensibly
  • Be active
  • Watch their weight
  • Turn up to their NHS Health Check

Why this topic?

As we know, men are less likely to lead a healthy lifestyle.  They are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol to hazardous levels and be overweight or obese.  These activities can lead into serious diseases such as cancer, heart diseases and strokes, the risk of which can be reduced by leading a healthy lifestyle.  The Men’s Health Forum’s Men’s Health Manifesto challenges men and health providers on these issues.

Get involved

Organisers at the Men’s Health Forum have told us they would love to hear from you.  Anyone can take part in Men’s Health Week, especially local organisations, public health teams, NHS and employers.  If you sign up for Men’s Health Week 2015 news and information, the Men’s Health Forum will help you get involved in the week.  The Forum will send you extra newsletters with updates on the week and details of how to get resources as soon as they are available.

See here for more information about the week.

(Text adapted from the Men’s Health Forum sample newsletter)

(17th April 2015)


Lower risk of dementia if overweight

A study of almost two million people in the UK has suggested that overweight people have the lowest risk of dementia.

The study used body mass index (BMI) data from 1.9 million people in the UK recorded between 1992 and 2007.  Checking this information alongside diagnoses of dementia over this time showed that underweight people had a 34% higher risk of dementia than people with a healthy weight.  The risk appears to reduce as weight increases, with very obese people reported as having a 29% lower dementia risk than people with a healthy weight.

The lead researcher, Dr Qizilbash, is quoted by BBC News that this is “contrary to most if not all studies that have been done, but if you collect them all together our study overwhelms them in terms of size and precision.”  However, the researchers and dementia charities were quick to point out that more research is needed to better understand the link between dementia and weight.  Dr Qizilbash also made clear to the BBC that “you can’t…think it’s OK to be overweight or obese.  Even if there is a protective effect, you may not live long enough to get the benefits.”

Given the overwhelming evidence in favour of keeping a healthy weight to prevent other serious health conditions such as heart disease, men are advised not to pile on the pounds yet!  This research also highlights a potential risk with being underweight, so keeping active, eating and drinking well and maintaining a healthy weight are still recommended for men’s overall health and wellbeing.

While body mass index (BMI) is not a perfect measure and has its detractors, if you would like to work out your own BMI, there are a number of calculators online such as on the BBC website.

(10th April 2015)


Fitter men less likely to develop some cancers

Exercise could be a key means of reducing middle-aged men’s risk of developing lung and colorectal cancers, a new US study claims.

The research looked at the cardio-fitness levels of almost 14,000 men aged between 46 and 50 in Texas.  The men’s fitness was regularly tested over an average of six and a half years between 1971 and 2009.  Men with the highest levels of fitness reduced their risk of developing lung cancer by 55% and their risk of colorectal cancer by 44%.  The results also suggest that fitter men were more likely to survive cancer if diagnosed.  The study was undertaken by researchers from several US universities and medical centres, and published in JAMA Oncology.  More information is available on BBC News and NHS Choices.

As noted by study author Dr Lakoski, it is likely that a man’s “fitness earlier in life has an impact 20 or 30 years later”.  While the links between fitness and cancer are still not fully understood, this study offers further evidence of the long-term benefits of keeping fit and undertaking regular exercise, whatever your age.

(3rd April 2015)