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Why Are There No Obese Men in Canada and Why Does Nobody Care?

OK, actually there are plenty of obese men in Canada – in fact slightly more than obese women. In addition, the health risks of obese men are somewhat higher than those of obese women, if only because men tend to accumulate visceral and abdominal fat rather than deposit the excess weight on their hips and thighs.

As faithful readers may recall, I have previously discussed the differences between men and women when it comes to how they perceive their excess weight. Thus, not surprisingly, women make up well over 80% of participants in most weight loss programs, even in those that provide medical or surgical obesity management.

This topic will now be the theme of a Café Scientifique (Is Canada ignoring obesity in men?), to be held on Wednesday, February 15, 2012, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Edmonton City Hall.

The event, co-sponsored by the Canadian Institute of Health Research Institute of Gender and Health and the Canadian Obesity Network, will try to find answers to questions like the following:

If more men than women live with excess weight in Canada, why, when we hear statistics about rising obesity levels these gender trends are often overlooked. Why are men affected by obesity more than women, and why do we talk about it less? Is biology to blame? As a society, are we more willing to accept obesity in men? And are they getting the help they need?

Join moderator Mark Connolly of CBC News Edmonton and some of Canada’s top researchers and health professionals, together with a patient sharing his experience, to discuss what’s driving the issue, and what can be done about it.

Featured speakers:

Dr. Kim Raine, Professor, School of Public Health, University of Alberta
Dr. Daniel Birch, Professor, Department of Surgery, University of Alberta
J. Jacque E. Lovely, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Alberta Health Services Provincial Bariatric Resource Team
Marty Enokson, Patient and advocate

This event is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP:

Philadelphia, PA


  1. Sounds like an interesting discussion and I hope it will be available online at some point since I won’t be in Edmonton. One idea that jumped out at me has to do with beer consumption. Perhaps there is some connection?

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  2. Obesity in men is ignored because we don’t care so much about how men look, and because how they look isn’t treated as a measurement of their inherent worth.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the medicalization of fatness were a direct result of women in the twentieth century going to their doctors for help making their bodies fashionably thin. Doctors are supposed to promote heath, so when they were asked to deal with the issue of weight, they built a structure of biased studies and medical conjecture, making weight into a seemingly major health issue rather than an issue chiefly of fashion and convenience.

    In the twentieth century, women went to their doctors for help making their bodies fashionably thin. Men did not. In the twenty first century, woman and doctors have convinced themselves that weight is a major health issue. The absence of men – especially slightly fat men – from medical treatment for obesity is a result of how and why “obesity” was constructed as a medical issue.

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  3. I have been obese since age 5; morbidly obese soon after that, weighing 300 pounds since age 14 moving up to 380 pounds in the next decade. I dieted and lost over 220 pounds by age 28. In the next 27 years, still not having learned to deal with life without numbing myself with quantities of food, I ate myself up to 350+ pounds again. Kidney stones, gout , hypertension, unhealthy skin conditions, heart irregularities, back and joint problems, etc. etc. limited my life greatly. I lived in isolation and hopelessness, yet pretending on the outside that my life was ‘manageable.’ IT NEVER WAS. Then I found a 12 Step recovery program in Lethbridge, AB, available ( free) throughout Canada, USA and other parts of the world which helps me look at my “pathological” (unhealthy) relationship with food (an addiction, I believe,) in a new stuctured way. In the first 18 months, with the guidance of a mentor (sponsor) and other people in fellowship, I brought my weight down to a healthier 175 pounds. Now 12 years later, I continue, for the most part, to maintain that weight. However, as my emotional (and spiritual, perhaps) journey toward wellness takes longer than my physical recovery (weight loss), I have know periodic relapse. But today I live med-free, in hope, no longer desperation. I live in greater connection with people than with food. I live more in the joy of the moment than regrets about my past or fears of the future. I have much yet to learn. I believe men in our society are fewer in recovery from obesity than women, for various reasons previously mentioned. One reason, I believe, is that most women already know their vulnerability in life, through their bleeding ( menstruation, childbirth, menopause ). Men it seems, have to be initiated or taught tro recognize their powerlessness, their vulnerability. And often it takes our pain to move us to that place of surrender, of becoming honest, open and humble. I am grateful that I do connect with many men in this 1

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  4. I am grateful that I do connect with many men in the 12 Step program who support my recovery from my painful obese existence. Many who are maintaining healthy weights having lost over 200 -300 pounds. They become my true mentors. So now I need no longer rely on medcations, psychologists, self-help books, ER doctors, mental health workers, counsellors. I am being taugh by best: those who have walked before me in their obesity and now find in recovery, a life we never thought possible. I am truely grateful for all Dr. Sharma is doing to enlighten us all on such a growing and malignant health concern.

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