The weight loss strategies of the baby boomers

Weight-loss strategies used by baby boomer men: a mixed methods approach

James et al, JHND Early View

Background

Baby Boomer men (those born in 1946–1964) are becoming obese at an earlier age compared to previous generations. The present study aimed to identify weight-loss strategies used by Baby Boomer men, to determine whether those strategies varied by weight status and to explore their dieting experiences.

Methods

The study used a cross-sectional survey of 211 men and 20 in-depth interviews.

Results

Men had a mean (SD) body mass index (BMI) of 29.35 (5.07) kg m–2, with 82% being overweight or obese. Fifty-six percent were currently trying to lose weight. Healthy weight-loss strategies included reducing portions, increasing physical activity, cutting back on fried foods, cutting back on sweets, cutting back on alcohol, using meal replacement drinks/bars and joining a weight-loss programme. Unhealthy strategies included skipping meals and using over-the-counter ‘diet pills’. Men who reduced portions, skipped meals, cut back on sweets, joined a weight-loss programme and used diet pills had significantly higher BMIs than men who said they did not (P < 0.05 for all). Interviews revealed that older men struggle to lose weight, ‘I’ve been struggling for the last 2–3 years’. ‘The last time I really tried to lose weight I stayed on the diet for just a day or two’. Wives were considered essential to their weight management success.

Conclusions

Men used a do-it-yourself weight-loss approach using both healthy and unhealthy strategies. Obese men were more likely to use unhealthy practices than overweight men.

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