Why Aussie men are some of world’s most obese
Australian men are the third fattest in the world, with seven out of 10 overweight or obese by the time they reach middle age.
A new Australian Institute of Family Studies study found men grow bigger as they get older.
Obesity rates rise from 20 per cent of boys aged 10 to 14 to 60 per cent of men in their mid-20s and 30s. By the time men are 35 to 57, more than 70 per cent are overweight or obese, putting them behind only men from the United States and Chile.
The Institute's Ten to Men study of 16,000 males aged 10 to 55 found demographic factors such as neighbourhood disadvantage, living in regional areas and lower levels of education make some more susceptible to obesity than others.
The rate of obesity in middle-aged men has not improved in the past two decades.
Across a two-year period, very few males lost weight - nine in 10 who were overweight or obese in middle age remained so two years later.
AIFS research fellow Brendan Quinn said the study's results were surprising and concerning.
"These are men with families and jobs that mean they are sitting down for many hours a day.
They also can be afraid to access health experts such as speaking to a GP," he said.
He said men who are overweight or obese are three times more likely than those of a healthy weight to experience cardiovascular problems and diabetes and 1.4 times more likely to have a respiratory condition or arthritis.
The study, the longest and biggest of its kind in the world, found the key reason for boys as young as 10 to be overweight was low physical activity.
But as males mature, other lifestyle factors, such as frequent medication use, poor diet, heavy smoking and harmful levels of drinking, increase the risk of obesity.
Research shows innovative, long-term approaches are needed. These may include programs such as incorporating fruit trees and vegetable gardens in public housing properties to encourage healthier diets and promoting social connection.
Melbourne personal trainer Jack Revens has spent 40 years in the health and fitness industry and has trained thousands of people.
"Just because you are overweight, it doesn't mean you are unfit. It's important not to judge yourself. Do exercise because it makes you feel good," he said.
"It's also important to change the way you approach food and have a holistic approach. Exercise doesn't have to be boring and tedious. It's not just about counting push-ups and taking selfies."
His Men's Movement podcast aims to be entertaining, as well as informative.
"No matter where you are on your journey, the benefits of exercise for your mental health are clear," Mr Revens said.
PERCENTAGE OF MALES WHO ARE OVERWEIGHT OR OBESE
United States 74 per cent
Chile 73 per cent
Australia 71 per cent
Portugal 70 per cent
Finland 70 per cent
Ireland 70 per cent
New Zealand 69 per cent
Mexico 69 per cent
Canada 68 per cent
Germany 67 per cent
Originally published as Why Aussie men are some of world's most obese