Obesity and men aged 50-64: Qualitative research
Summary of findings
Context & Key Themes
- Respondents demonstrated traditional attitudes and behaviour to being ‘a man’, e.g. manual labour, perceptions that high levels of work activity will keep respondent fit, man = main income earner, an acceptance that the man is not in direct control of own health.
- Almost all were drinking more than recommended amounts. Smoking less prevalent (almost all smoked heavily in the past).
- Exercise typically not done for the sake of it. Some team sports. Mostly minimal activity. Gym is not ‘for me.’ Need convincing that walking is of high value.
- Reactive, not pro-active, management of health. Relationship with GP is distant and impersonalised. Issue of weight always brought up by the GP (not patient) and is secondary to the complaint being discussed. Resentment of ‘men in grey suits’ telling them what to do / feel they have little understanding of their lives. Switched off by shock health ads. Portrayal of healthy food in media seen as irrelevant. Any messages must acknowledge working class pressures and mentality.
- Lack of joined up thinking (i.e. diet OR gym OR stopping smoking / drinking). All or nothing approach (rather than little steps).
Attitudes to weight, exercise & health
- Lack of understanding over what is healthy. Also lack of control due to different family meal times (convenience is key). Resistance to give up their traditional, fatty, fried diets. (Mums in complete control).
- Refusal to think about / see weight as a problem by some. Others more receptive to change. Attitudes shared by partner / rest of family. Some are open to support, others are not.
Attitudes to & experiences of losing weight
- Triggers include illness / death of someone close, realisation of own health problems, or more trivial concerns; get out of breath easily, clothes don’t fit.
- Reasons for previous failure to lose weight include; lack of time, trying to make too big a change, lack of clear goals, expense, lack of support etc.
- Ingredients for success include: teamwork, enjoyment of the process, small changes etc.
- A Weight Management Programmes needs to involve others, educate, personalise, encourage, provide guidance and support, and not patronise.
Evaluation of Weightwise Programme
- Limited awareness. Top of mind association was WeightWatchers. Seen as ‘not for them.’
- Positives: free, GP referrals (more likely to go), limited timespan (10 weeks), good content, group activity motivating.
- Negatives: Unlikely to be referred due to lack of GP interaction, group shop not seen as appropriate for their lifestyle, mixed gender groups did not appeal, need more flexibility over times of sessions, name too heavily focussed on weight.
- Therefore some changes needed for WeightWise to perform optimally against criteria specified above.
The way forward
- Ideas for improvement / promotion of WeightWise include: introduce some aspect of team exercise, ensure clear communication of benefits, actively praise success, promote sessions held at different times of day, etc. etc.
- Suggestions given as to how to target different segments of respondents (open to change vs ‘head in the sand’, ‘I need support’ vs ‘I can do it on my own.’
- Understand motivational factors that will encourage respondents to take control of their diet
- Gain insight into their current relationship with health professionals and their understanding of weight services available
- Evaluate previous attempts at maintaining a healthy lifestyle and barriers to keeping their lifestyle healthy
- Gain knowledge of the respondents environment, socially, in the workplace and in the home
Due to above national levels of obesity in men aged 50-64 Barnsley PCT decided to gain a greater understanding of this demographic.
Their business objective was to halt the year on year rise and encourage a reduction in male obesity levels in men aged 50-64 in Barnsley.
Research amongst obese Barnsley men aged 50-64 to understand their relationship to health, weight, weight management and available weight services with the aim of gaining insights to help reduce obesity levels amongst this group.
4x 90 minute mini-discussion groups, as follows:
- 1x control group
- Aged 50-64 years
- Collar size less than 16 inches
- Waist size less than 40 inches
- 3x target audience
- 1x 50-64 yrs, 1x 50-57 yrs, 1x 57-64 yrs
- All have collar size 16.5 inches or more
- All have waist size 40 inches or more
- All obese
4x 90 minute in-home depths (follow on from groups) with respondents whose attitudes / experiences they wanted to explore further. Opportunity to talk to respondent, partner and other family members.
Data collection methodology
- 4 groups (size not specified; assume around 32)
- 4 individuals (drawn from the above groups; plus partner / family members)