11 Jun Launch of Men’s Health Week 2012
Out of shape Dads told ‘You Only Live Once’
60 per cent of British dads are out of shape putting them at greater risk of heart disease as well as affecting their family relationships, it emerged yesterday on the eve of Men’s Health Week 2012. Finishing the family’s left over food, ordering takeaways at work and hours spent lazing in ‘dad’s chair’ are just some of the habits that have lead one in five fathers to suffer a health scare. A study of 2,000 dads found 40 per cent aren’t able to pull their weight in the family home because they are too exhausted as a result of work.
The research – commissioned by Benenden Healthcare Society and the Men’s Health Forum charity – found dads feeling fed up, too tired to play with their children or snapping at them as common reactions to feeling overworked and undernourished. The findings show that the average dad puts on 1.6 stone (10.43 kg) after becoming a father. Dr Ian Banks, president of the Men’s Health Forum said yesterday: “Men can face an uphill struggle with their health when they become fathers.
“The survey shows even their kids know it. Heart disease is the biggest cause of premature death in men. We’re saying you only live once – if you want to be around to see your kids grow up you need to stay healthy.”
And more than a quarter sneak in naps during weekdays in order to cope – one in twenty have even snoozed while on the toilet at work. 42 per cent have used energy drinks to keep them going through the day but an exhausted fifth have fallen asleep while in the middle of reading to their children. One in five dads has texted someone they knew was in the same house to avoid getting out of their seat, with the same proportion regularly finding themselves breathless after running up the stairs.
The study also quizzed 500 young adults (aged 18-30) on their dad’s health – with three in ten having cause to suspect their dad might be suffering from a more serious health issue. A concerned 60 per cent say their dad isn’t fit or very healthy and half of young adults feel their dad is overweight. A third of young adults think their dad is stubborn and refuses to deal with health issues unless pushed.
Yesterday, Paul Keenan, External Affairs Manager at the health & wellbeing mutual, Benenden Healthcare Society, said: “The modern lifestyle is a hectic one and this study clearly shows the impact this is having on fatherhood.
“As we approach Father’s Day, we discover that the modern dad’s health is suffering under the strain from diverging pressures such as work and family life. As a result, dads are taking shortcuts with their diets – leading to increased weight, a more sedentary lifestyle and eventually running the risk of health scares. Men’s Health Week’s You Only Live Once campaign is highlighting the fact that heart disease is the biggest killer of men in the UK, and these results show how many men are hurtling towards increasing strain on the heart.”
Weight gain, a poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle and long working hours are risk factors for heart disease. Stress can also lead to other risk factors like smoking, hazardous drinking and overeating. Men are at far greater risk of heart disease than women, especially at a younger age. Heart disease is the most common cause of death – and premature death – for men in the UK. In the UK, 20,850 men a year die from heart disease before the age of 75 years compared to 7,408 women.
But the Benenden/MHF research also found that the cardiac arrest suffered by top footballer Fabrice Muamba delivered a strong reality check for one in three fathers, alerting them to the need to take their own health more seriously. Benenden and MHF recommend that fathers – and all men – pay more attention to their heart health by adopting healthier lifestyles, taking up invitations to the new free NHS Health Checks and seeking medical help if they have a health worry.
For more on Men’s Health Week – You Only Live Once, including events info and father’s day cards, visit www.menshealthweek.org.uk