Weight concerns and weight loss practices of Baby Boomer men
The Baby Boomer generation is the largest generation in the history of the United States (U.S.). Currently, this population is becoming obese earlier in life than in previous generations. This is concerning as the earliest members of this generation became eligible for social security in 2008 and will be eligible for Medicare by 2011. Prevention and treatment programs for obesity are needed to decrease the potential health risks that will lead to an increase in morbidity and mortality rates among this group. The purpose of this study was to determine how male Baby Boomers view their weight, what weight loss or weight management strategies they were using, and what barriers and motivators they had to losing weight, increasing physical activity, and eating healthy.
An 84-item survey was adapted from similar studies and modified to address the behaviors of men that were identified in the literature. Men born between 1946 and 1964 were recruited to participate in the study from various sites within the community using purposive and snowball sampling. Surveys were completed by a total of 211 participants. The mean BMI for participants was 29.35±5.07 and 82.3% of participants were overweight or obese. None of the participants were underweight. Weight was inaccurately described by 53% of obese men who had a significantly higher preferred weight than normal and overweight men, F (2, 198) = 19.861, p = 0.000. Seventy-seven percent of overweight men preferred a weight in an overweight range. Obese men were significantly more likely to be trying to lose weight than overweight or normal weight men (19%) (X2 (6, N = 202) = 53.896, p = 0.000). Men most frequently listed needing information on portion control, recommended amounts of physical activity, and how to prepare healthy meals. The predominate weight loss strategies were eating less food, exercising more often, and cutting back on unhealthy foods such as fried food and desserts. BMI was significantly higher among those who were not physically active, F (3, 181) = 6.232, p = 0.000. The most frequently reported barriers to physical activity were time and getting home too late, while the motivators to physical activity were to lose weight, disease diagnosis, and being told by a doctor to be more active. To eat healthier men reported needing to eat more fruits and vegetables and consume less fried foods and “junk” foods. The barriers to eating healthy included being unable to give up certain foods, having a busy life, and healthy eating not being a priority and the motivators were to lose weight, disease diagnosis, and disease prevention.
The findings suggest that overweight men may not have the same concerns about their weight as obese men. In addition, the low rates of physical activity suggest that men are not physically active enough to lose or control their weight. The reported motivators of disease prevention and diagnosis that were present for all three behaviors suggest that men may take a more reactive stance towards weight loss. The findings may be used to help develop weight loss programs for Baby Boomer men that provide education as to what a healthy weight is, appropriate portion and serving sizes, and the amount of physical activity needed to lose weight.
0680: Health education