By Ian Lewis
A generation brought up on fast food and ready meals has left more than two-thirds of middle-aged British men overweight or obese, a new study suggests.
The study found that more men in their 40s are overweight than their female counterparts - but less likely to be bothered by the issue.
Researchers at the University of London's Institute for Education measured the body mass index of nearly 10,000 people in their early 40s.
Of the men, 68 per cent were found to be obese or overweight compared to 49 per cent the women.
Just nine per cent of the overweight women claimed they were "about the right weight" compared to 30 per cent of the men.
More socially acceptable for men
Women also seem to be doing more to shed the excess pounds, with around two-thirds saying they are working to lose weight, compared to 41 per cent of overweight men.
Dr Alice Sullivan said: "Carrying excess weight is far more socially acceptable for men than for women, and men will not respond to health messages about weight and obesity if they do not recognise that they are overweight.
"This is a particular concern given that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for men aged 35 and over."
Poor diet affecting men's weight
The study also suggests a generational divide, researchers having found that people born in 1970 are much likelier to be obese at 42 than people who were born in 1958.
Dr Sullivan said: "People born in 1970 grew up at a time when lifestyles were becoming increasingly inactive and high-calorie convenience foods were widely available for the first time.
"We know that both exercise and diet are important for maintaining a healthy weight.
"But our findings show that ready meals, frozen foods, and takeaways are popular with this generation, while nearly a third of women and a quarter of men do no vigorous exercise in a typical week.
"It may seem surprising that more men do vigorous exercise than women, even though they are more likely to be overweight or obese. This suggests that poor diet is a key factor affecting men's weight in particular."