Men’s Health Week takes place every year, so what it’s all about and why is it so important?

One in five men die before the age of 65. Men’s Health Week aims to increase awareness for men’s wellbeing and encourage men to live healthier, more active lifestyles in order to fight this statistic and improve the lives of men all over the world.

The movement aims to do this with the help of thousands of participants. By signing up to regular updates, using free resources to carry out events and activities, sharing images on social media and using hashtags you can boost awareness for this important cause.

Last year, Men’s Health Week focussed on stress relief. The year before, the topic was healthy living and in 2014 it was work and health. So what is this year’s focus?

This year’s Men’s Health Week is all about belly fat

For 2017, Men’s Health Week focuses on belly fat. Although women are by no means immune to abdominal fat, it is a fact that many more men carry an unhealthy amount of weight around their middle. The importance of keeping abdominal fat to a minimum extends far beyond the aesthetics of wanting a washboard stomach, as belly fat has significant implications for our broader health.

Abdominal fact consists of two forms of fat: subcutaneous fat, which sits just below the skin; and visceral fat, which surrounds organs such as the pancreas, liver and intestines. Although it is often the subcutaneous fat that we consider to stand in the way of achieving the perfect physique, it is visceral that is by far the most dangerous for our health and wellbeing. This is because visceral fat interacts with our vital organs and changes the way that the body operates – inhibiting circulation, causing inflammation and creating a hormone imbalance in the body, among other things.

Over time, large amounts of visceral belly fat can increase your risk of serious conditions like sleep apnoea, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer and even premature death.

So how much fat is too much?

It’s time to get measuring

You can check to see whether you’re carrying a high-risk level of belly fat by measuring your waist with a tape measure at the belly button (simply relying on your trouser size is not an accurate enough measurement.)

Waists below 37 inches (or 94cm) are generally in the low-risk category, whereas anything above this means you’re at an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and erectile dysfunction. If your waist is over 40 inches (or 102 cm), you are considered to have a significant risk of contracting one of these diseases.

It is worth noting that to get an accurate calculation of deep-lying visceral fat, an MRI scan is necessary. But measuring fat in this basic way can at least help men to benchmark their current state of health as a starting point to make improvements.

Why is Men’s Health Week so important?

The time to talk about men’s health is long overdue. Men are infamously bad at doing anything to address symptoms or seek treatment, choosing instead to ignore problems and keep them to themselves.

Studies have found that over a two-year period, men are half as likely to visit the doctor as women. What’s more, they are three times as likely to go five years without a visit and twice as likely to have never contacted a doctor as an adult.

The reasons for this seem to be a mixture of different factors, including feeling ‘too busy’ to seek medical advice, feeling embarrassed about intimate tests and being scared about receiving unpleasant results. But remaining in the dark about your health can have disastrous consequences.

Men, on average, die earlier than women. They’re also more likely to die from eight out of the top ten fatal diseases and are more likely to smoke, drink and live generally unhealthy lifestyles.

So, men, what should you do?

Get involved in Men’s Health Week by downloading resources, educating yourself and sharing messages on social media. You can even plan events, and don’t forget to get that tape measure out and check your belly fat level.

If you’re worried you might be carrying too much weight around this region, make the effort to implement some key lifestyle changes. Eating healthier, moving more and cutting down on alcohol could be enough to see significant health improvements. And, of course, never be afraid to seek medical expertise.

For further information, advice and guidance on weight management or related symptoms such as erectile dysfunction, why not speak confidentially to one of our trained pharmacists using our Live Chat facility.