Healthy lifestyle study targets young men

Mar 19 2014

Nutrition researcher Lee Ashton

Young men are the target of a new University of Newcastle study aiming to tailor a healthy lifestyle program that meets their specific needs.

PhD candidate Lee Ashton will recruit young men aged 18-25 to participate in a focus group to explore the motivators and barriers they encounter when attempting to lead a healthy lifestyle.

“There is a general lack of understanding of the needs of young men to lead a healthy lifestyle, which is why they are so heavily underrepresented in obesity treatments and prevention programs,” Mr Ashton said.

“Research shows the incidence of obesity in Australia is significantly higher in males than females aged 18 to 24. In addition, women of the same age are three times more likely to be targeted for intervention for a weight problem than young men, which is why it is important that better lifestyle interventions are developed that resonate with young men,” Mr Ashton said.

The study will use focus groups to understand young men’s motivators and barriers to participating in a healthy lifestyle program. The feedback provided will inform the development of a healthy lifestyle program designed to recruit, retain and engage young men in addressing their health and weight issues.

Mr Ashton said barriers young men may face to leading a healthy lifestyle could include lack of time, lack of discipline, boredom with program options, lack of motivation to participate and in some instances, failure to realise they are overweight and therefore need to take action.

“Despite the prevalence of the weight loss industry, little of it is aimed at helping young males to maintain a healthy weight and make smart nutritional decisions.

“Findings from the initial focus groups show that males in this age group prefer programs that promote strength, muscling up or fitness, rather than dieting or weight loss, which they see as a feminine concern.”

Lee Ashton is conducting the study with Professor Clare Collins, Professor Philip Morgan, Dr Megan Rollo and Dr Melinda Hutchesson. Those interested in participating in the study should visit for information and eligibility.