Research type 
Desk research
Year of report 

Summary of findings


The survey highlighted that whilst men may have a different attitude to weight management, there is a considerable segment of men within the 40-64 age group who are potential targets for social marketing. Around 1 in 5 within this group are currently trying to lose weight.

A large proportion of overweight men do not consider themselves to be overweight.

For those wanting to lose weight, motivation and / or will power (or lack of) are seen as key barriers.

GPs and nurses were seen as important providers of support in losing weight. A referred from a GP could work powerfully to promote men’s involvement. Care needs to be taken as men are not familiar with accessing health care services in the way that women do.

Wives (and sons and daughters) of the men aged 40-64 could have an important role in supporting their weight loss.

A ‘scientific base’ to engagement with men is important, and activities provided should be ‘fun’.

Marketing campaigns need to reflect some or all of: status, power, authenticity, functionality and craftsmanship, science, humour.

Other strategies for engaging men include:

  • providing anonymous and confidential access to health information
  • use of men-appropriate language / imagery
  • easy access to services (longer opening times)
  • health care environments to be male-friendly (e.g. include male magazines, posters and leaflets.)
  • use of different settings, e.g pubs, sports venues for basic health checks.
  • flexible access for those from routine and manual occupations who work shifts.
  • segmentation of activities to consider age and ethnic differences, single men / men in a relationship.
  • development of interventions which allow men to see ‘progress’
  • strategies for sustaining weight loss
  • consideration of robust and appropriate evaluation measures prior to the intervention.

Research objectives


Overall aim:

To provide an understanding of the population highlighted as having high levels of obesity and to provide insight on their characteristics, motivations and behaviours to help inform the development of focused interventions and social marketing campaigns.

Detail objectives:

To explore:

  • attitudes towards weight loss programmes
  • why more women than men attend weight loss groups
  • patterns, perceptions and causes of excess weight
  • attitudes towards messages communicated via campaigns
  • aspirations and life plans
  • financial aspects that affect buyer behaviour
  • impact of advertising campaigns
  • social pressures e.g. social fit, friends activities, peer pressure
  • (whether the respondents understand) the relationship and links between excess weight and ill health



NHS Hull is planning a range of activities, interventions and campaigns designed to reduce the level of obesity in the city. This research was a scoping study to investigate the behaviours, psychographic characteristics and profiles of target groups to be included in social marketing activity in 2009. The findings from the research will be used to inform, influence and support the decision of how to target specific groups of residents in Hull, with the aim of affecting behavioural change to increase contacts and attendance at weight loss interventions.

A particular aspect of the work was to improve the insight available relating to men, in the age group 40-65, particularly those from lower socio-economic groups. This target has been identified as being less likely to participate in weight management activities overall, and also to be more likely to fall into the categories of overweight or obese.

Quick summary


Research to provide an understanding of the population highlighted as having high levels of obesity and to provide insight on their characteristics, motivations and behaviours to help inform development of focused interventions and social marketing campaigns.

Audience Summary




  • Depth interviews with men: mostly white (x16), some BME (x5) (African, Indian, Iraqi, Chinese, Pakistani)
  • Otherwise not specified


  • Survey: the men included were aged 40-64 (women’s ages not specified)
  • Men’s focus group: all aged 40-64
  • Otherwise not specified

Social Class


Not specified




Four components, including quantitative and qualitative methods:

  • Literature Review
  • Consultation with stakeholders (depth interviews)
  • Focus Groups and Depth Interviews with residents (see below for details)
  • Survey of residents of Hull

Data collection methodology

Depth interviews
Focus groups
Systematic review
Textual/documentary analysis

Sample size

  • Survey:  288x male and female residents of Hull. (Mixed telephone and face-to-face)
  • Qual:
  1. 21x depth interviews, of which 16 white men, 5 BME (men?)
  2. 1x focus group with men not engaged in weight loss intervention. 7 men attended, mostly lower SOG.
  3. 2x ‘group sessions’ with women who attended local weight management sessions run by NHS Hull
  4. Depth interviews (sample size unknown) with stakeholders, including GP’s, pharmacist, nutritionist, employers, staff working in obesity services / leisure clubs / community centres etc.

Detailed region



Fieldwork dates



Agree to publish



Research agency

Information by Design