Mind & Body

‘Heart attack’ Dads Urged to Get Healthy in Men’s Health Week

TIMEOctober 1, 2015
An e-card for Father's Day to encourage men to look after their heart health in Men's Health Week.
An e-card for Father's Day to encourage men to look after their heart health in Men's Health Week. (Courtesy of Men's Health Forum)

“You only live once,” is the message urging fathers to pay more attention to their health, as a new survey reveals that six out of ten British fathers are unfit and overweight, putting them at great risk of heart disease.

The research, released for Men’s Health Week this week, shows that four out of ten dads are too exhausted after work to help around the house. On average, fatherhood also sees men putting on over one and a half stone in weight.

With heart disease being the biggest killer of men in the UK, the charity that commissioned the study, Men’s Health Forum (MHF), is encouraging men to get active with its You Only Live Once campaign for Men’s Health Week.

“We’re saying that if you want to be around to see your kids grow up you need to stay healthy,” Dr Ian Banks, president of the MHF, said in a statement.

MHF have put 20 warning signs that a father’s health is at risk on its website. Many of the dads in the study admitted to displaying habits that could be a sign of failing health. 

A quarter of those surveyed have taken naps during weekdays, and 1 in 20 have even fallen asleep while on the toilet at work. One-fifth of dads have texted someone they knew was in the same house to avoid getting out of their seat.

Besides the 2,000 fathers surveyed, the study also questioned 500 young people aged 18-30 on their dad’s health.

A worried 60 per cent say their dad isn’t fit or healthy, and half of young adults feel their father is overweight.

Government statistics show that men are more likely to die early from heart disease – 20,850 men a year die before the age of 75 compared to 7,408 women. Men in lower income groups are especially at risk.

Benenden Healthcare Society is the private healthcare provider that also commissioned the study. Paul Keenan, external affairs manager, said that the study highlights the impact the hectic modern lifestyle 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,” he said in a statement.

“As a result, dads are taking shortcuts with their diets,” Keenan said. He is concerned that this is leading to increased weight, a more sedentary lifestyle, and running the risk of health scares.

“These results show how many men are hurtling towards increasing strain on the heart.”

Part of adopting a healthy lifestyle is facing up to health problems and getting help. Surviving an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) made 62-year-old heavy smoker Bernard Bush wake up to the importance of looking after his health. 

“I thought I was healthy but I suddenly collapsed at home,” Bush said on the MHF website. “You just go down, bang. My family thought I was dead.” 

“It makes you stop and think just how stupid we men are. The wife goes to keep-fit. We go down the pub. I used to be a workaholic but this has improved my relationship with my family. I realise now which is more important,” he said.

Bush now campaigns for national screening for AAA.

Men’s Health Week runs from June 11 ending on June 17, Father’s Day. Events and activities for the week can be found at www.menshealthweek.org.uk.

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