Married men more likely to be overweight,says survey


Married Irishmen are more than three times as likely to be overweight or obese than their single counterparts, according to a new health survey.

Describing them as "by far the worst offenders" in the area of healthy living, the report, published yesterday, said married men exercised less, watched more television, spent more time in their cars and were "in general less body conscious" than single men.

Only 6 per cent of the single men interviewed were either overweight or obese compared to 20 per cent of the married men, the Millward Brown IMS survey found.

Launching the report, Dr Donal O'Shea, consultant endocrinologist at St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin, said the finding was partly explained by the fact that married men were generally older than single ones. However, other factors included "inactivity about the house" and downright laziness.

A third of respondents who said they watched at least 20 hours of TV a week claimed they did not have time for physical activity.

The survey, for which people self-reported weights and heights, found 41 per cent of the respondents were overweight and 11 per cent obese. Dr O'Shea noted people tended to underestimate their measurements, and, thus, the true figures were closer to 50 per cent and 18 per cent respectively.

"A lot of people are walking around who are obese thinking they are just a little bit overweight, or 'well-built'."

Anyone who was 5ft 11in and 15 stone or 5ft 5in and 13 stone was obese. "People really need to understand that your chance of having a stroke or a heart attack is three times higher if you are obese compared to normal weight."

Young men were found to be most active of all the groups, with 88 per cent of 15-24-year-olds engaging in a sporting activity at least once a week. At the other end of the spectrum, 41 per cent of men aged over 50 did not take any physical activity.

Traffic congestion was also linked to expanding waistlines, with half of respondents saying they used their cars every day. The worst offenders were men aged 35 to 64. Fewer women were found to be overweight - 32 per cent compared to 51 per cent of men. Women also watched less television, with just 8 per cent of those aged over 25 viewing 16-20 hours a week compared to 18 per cent of men in the same age bracket.

A worrying factor, said Dr O'Shea, was ignorance about the health risks associated with being overweight. Only a quarter of respondents were aware that diabetes could be caused by excessive weight. He said there was an urgent need for a major health promotion campaign before Ireland found itself "in a horrible situation equivalent to the United States where a third of people are obese, and another third are overweight".

The survey questioned 1,000 people aged between 15 and 65. It was commissioned by Abbott Laboratories.