The prevalence of obesity among American men has doubled in only 25 years,
and it’s killing us. A 2004 survey published in the Journal of the American
Medical Association found that 71% of men 20 years old and over were
overweight and 31% were obese. The same survey conducted in the late 1970s had
found 47% of men were overweight and 15% were obese.
Science is searching for the causes of obesity and exploring the role of
genes, the diets of pregnant women, and the feeding habits of babies. But the
bottom line is this: Most of us have settled into sedentary lifestyles and have
trouble resisting the temptations of cheap, plentiful food our culture has
Terry Waters, a former college wrestler and baseball player, loved working out. He got real pleasure out of pushing himself hard at the gym, and he liked the feeling of tired but virtuous afterwards. He figured regular physical activity and its health benefits would always be a part of his life.
Then came marriage, three kids, a demanding job as a software engineer in Boston — and a thousand and one excuses not to make it to the gym. “For a little while, you convince yourself you’re still in pretty...
It isn’t good to be fat, but there’s just so much good food and so many ways
of entertaining ourselves from a swivel chair or a couch. As a result, a host
of health issues linked to obesity threatens us unless we learn how to push
back from the table earlier and head out the door for a walk or something
faster more often.
“By the time you reach 35,” says George L. Blackburn, MD, PhD, “you don’t
need to gain any more weight.” Blackburn holds the S. Daniel Abraham Chair of
Nutrition at Harvard Medical School, and he tells WebMD that as men get older,
muscle tends to be replaced by fatty tissue. Since fatty tissue doesn’t need
the same amount of energy to maintain itself, you gain weight. But if you’ve
gained more than 20 pounds since college, Blackburn says, something about your
food selection and exercise program is out of balance. “You need to run, not
walk,” he says, “to see a health care provider who’s experienced in finding
While women put weight on their hips, breasts, and limbs, men gather it
around the waist, where it circulates through the liver, causing metabolic
problems like diabetes. Added weight puts you at risk of heart attack, cancer,
hypertension, and sleep apnea. It can also affect your sex life and make it
harder to exercise and enjoy your kids.