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Men, It's Time to Get Serious About Your Weight.

Margaret (Peggy) Johnson, MD
Bariatrics/Weight Control Center, ACMC-Willmar Skylark Center

Do men take better care of their cars than themselves? Are men steadily becoming an "endangered species" regarding their health? And what is the "beer belly" phenomenon in men all about?

More than 35% of men in the U.S. are obese (BMI>30), and 5.5% are extremely obese (BMI>40). A man would have a BMI >30 at height 6 feet and weight greater than 200 pounds. Extreme obesity translates into typically being more than 80-100 pounds over ideal weight.

Health risks for overweight men are numerous and affect weight bearing concerns (think back pain, hip and knee pain, and lessened movement capabilities) as well as the many metabolic concerns that can kill prematurely (think heart attack, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, fatty liver, and many forms of cancer).

Excess body fat and an expanding waistline are usually the culprits. Men are designed to store fat in their abdomens. This is the visceral fat that is packed deep in the abdomen and involves liver, kidneys, and other organs; thus the "beer belly"/"pot belly" terms for when men have exceeded their storage capacity. So screening of obesity in men involves not only BMI (an interpretation of height and weight) but also waist circumference. Men should strive to keep a waistline less than 40 inches.

Men are twice as likely as women to not have seen a doctor in the past two years. So it's no surprise that of the 15 leading causes of death in the U.S., only one—Alzheimer's disease—claims more women than men.

The goal of healthy longevity is one we all might aspire to pursue. Healthy lifestyles and weight management are of importance. "Lastly, I would like to send a "shout out" to my father who at age 96 embodies the spirit of a physician/educator and community-minded leader. Thank you for your inspiration!"