A 2015 study out of Britain suggests that when it comes to whittling the waistline, marketers are leaving men behind, much to the detriment of men’s health.
The study found that women are 277 percent more likely to seek help for weight loss than men. Researchers are placing blame on the weight loss market, suggesting that the high number of preventable deaths occurring among men could be substantially affected if weight loss campaigns were better targeted toward both sexes.
Seventy-five percent of preventable deaths among men are due to coronary artery disease, a condition exacerbated by excess pounds. Middle-aged men are also twice as likely as middle-aged women to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, another chronic disease that hangs in the top ten preventable deaths in the United States.
So the question remains, are men really left out of the weight loss market?
Looking at campaigns from the most popular weight loss companies, the answer would be a resounding, yes. Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig choose female celebrities time and time again to endorse their brands. Women take center stage on their TV commercials and print ads. But is all the focus on women really the fault of the weight loss industry?
In 2012, Weight Watchers attempted to target the male market with their “Lose Like a Man” campaign featuring weight loss success story and famed athlete, Charles Barkley. And, it has long been known that Jenny Craig’s arch rival in the weight loss game, NutriSystem threw their hat in the ring with endorsements from football superstars, like Dan Marino, Mike Golic and Cris Carter. Today, Marie Osmond has stolen the show from the NutriSystem players, while Weight Watchers has given up on celebrities altogether and shifted their focus to real people—all of whom (at least in those TV commercials) are women.
It’s not so much that men are left out, it is that men are a tough market to reach. Ask any wife who has ever tried to put her husband on a diet—men are not so easily swooned when it comes to shedding pounds, no matter who tells them to do it.
Numerous health-centric programs have emerged over the years, hopeful in their efforts to corner the male market, particularly the middle-aged male market. Yet, it remains a fact that men are less likely to take preventive measures to protect their health. A 2011 campaign by the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) uncovered some astonishing numbers, including the hefty statistic that men are 70 percent less likely than women to seek attention for healthcare needs and a whopping 30 percent will be hospitalized because of it. Numbers like these were plastered across billboards in major cities with little effect on the health of the male population some four years later.
Men who are married tend to live longer and give more attention to their health than single men. And, men are most likely to take action toward weight loss if a healthcare provider shares a diagnosis of obesity. Research has shown that men prefer simple, straightforward, no-gimmick weight loss programs, but no “strict” diets—an almost impossible line to walk. (Man or woman, who isn’t seeking a simple, straightforward eat-whatever-you-want diet?) Despite staggering statistics and shorter lifespans than their female counterparts, there seem to be no unifying factors that will push the majority of the male population to protect their health with preventive measures. It’s time for men to weigh-in: What will motivate you to live a healthy lifestyle?