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Fighting ‘active fat’

by Alison Paul | Analysis

7 October 2011

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Following on from Yinka’s post on the growing issues of obesity in the UK, this week we’re launching our Active Fat  campaign for the second year running.  We’ve joined forces with British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK to work together on this campaign, and this year we’re trying to encourage men over 40 to measure their waist.

Last year we got the message out about what ‘active fat’ is and let people know about the dangers of a ‘spare tyre’. And because that was successful, we’re coming together once more to get men to take action.

Why men?

In the UK, more men than women are overweight, with nearly two thirds of men and just over half of women being overweight or obese. All this ‘active fat’ can lead to heart problems and type 2 diabetes, as well as cancers.

It can be hard to break unhealthy habits, especially at times in life where late nights working at the office can often combine with career pressure, supporting a family, childcare and many other things. The free time that you had in your 20s and 30s seems to disappear and time for a swim or trip to the gym suddenly isn’t as easy to fit into your lifestyle.

Measure up

This year, we’re asking people to check their waist and take action. The new campaign is along similar lines to some other health campaigns in Australia, like the Western Australia campaign ‘Draw the line’ and the national government funded ‘measure up’.

Tips, swaps and ideas

The timing of our new campaign also ties in nicely with the launch of Change4Life’s campaign for the autumn. We’ve pulled together some tips and tools from all three charities, which link up with many of the Change4Life tips – especially their swaps, where people make small changes that fit into their daily lives. Linking ‘Active fat’ with Change4Life means many more people will be able to hear vital health messages about obesity.

We hope that encouraging men to take that first step of measuring their waist will inspire them to start making some changes to help them stay in shape.

Raising awareness

Whenever we talk to our supporters and members of the public, whether it’s at Race for Life, where we’ve often got health stalls, or visiting workplaces to talk about cancer prevention, obesity is one of the areas where people tend not to know about the links between body weight and cancer.

Several types of cancer are more common in people who are overweight or obese, and they’re actually some of the more well-known types, like breast, bowel, womb and pancreatic cancers.

And it’s a big problem – current levels of being overweight and obesity in the UK could lead to about 19,000 cases of cancer each year. That’s why it’s so important for us to get people involved, get them measuring their waist, and starting to make changes to keep that waistline under control.

How do I get involved?

– Check out your own waist and BMI with our tools on the site.

– Spread the word on Twitter and Facebook using #activefat hashtag, send it out to your friends and try to get it out to as many blokes you know as possible.

– Find out how to fight back against Active Fat with loads of helpful hints and tips and some great ones from Change4Life’s adult campaign.


Alison Paul works in Cancer Research UK’s health marketing team.