Journal Article

The influence of social relationships on men's weight


There is a clear link between the development of obesity with poor diet and exercise behaviours. In the UK, excess weight is more prevalent among men than women: 41% of men and 31% of women are classed as overweight (BMI 25.0 -29.9 kg/m2); 68% and 58% of men and women respectively are overweight or obese (BMI≥ 25 kg/m2). An increase in BMI is also associated with a greater risk of mortality in men than in women however men are under-represented in lifestyle interventions for weight loss: In 2016, 7% of Slimming World members were men. It has been argued that men may perceive larger bodies to be more masculine and more desirable to women. Furthermore, factors contributing to male obesity such as eating large portions and consuming large volumes of alcohol, can be viewed as quintessentially masculine behaviours. To promote weight loss and reduce obesity among men, it is useful to understand which social interactions influence male weight loss behaviours. It is known that men in heterosexual relationships often gain weight after getting married, however the extent of women’s influence on men’s food intake and weight is unclear. Research studies investigating the influence that women and female partners have on male dietary and weight loss have been mixed; while some suggests they have a positive impact, other research suggests the impact is mixed or negative. Friends, peers and colleagues are also referenced regarding men’s diet and physical activity behaviours and behavioural intentions. The qualitative literature in the UK which explores how social relationships influence men’s weight and weight-related behaviours is, however, limited, therefore this research study sought to address this literature gap. The primary research question was to explore men’s perceptions and attitudes of dietary and physical activity behaviours in relation to weight and weight management.

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Harcourt, Kimberley
Appleton, Jane V.
Clegg, Miriam
Hunter, Louise

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Psychology, Health and Professional Development
Department of Midwifery, Community and Public Health


Year of publication: 2019
Date of RADAR deposit: 2019-09-04

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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