IRELAND'S PROBLEM with food and weight is a huge issue and is about to get worse according to the experts.
Men in particular avoid the subject when it comes to weight and brush it off as friendly banter when presented with the topic.
It can damage mental health and have long lasting ramifications.
One group who are tackling the UK and Ireland’s growing weight problem is a group called MAN v FAT.
MAN v FAT is a male only weight loss programme for men with a BMI of 27.50 or over.
According to Stuart Normansell, the Regional Manager at MAN v FAT Football for the South West and Wales, the group uses the medium of football as a motivator and driver towards weight loss.
“It’s a community of people, who help people come together and help each other lose weight”, said Normansell
The concept was born from writer, editor and publisher Andrew Shanahan in 2014. Having struggled with his weight for a long time, he joined his local slimming club. But it was aimed squarely at women and he struggled. This made him wonder – how many other men out there were struggling with weight loss?
Are you ready to shift some Easter weight? 🍫
MAN v FAT Football has clubs all across the UK, check the nearest club to you: https://t.co/iI5vaLwaMV
If you're looking for a new way to lose weight on your time, why not check out MAN v FAT Challenge: https://t.co/kpup7H3jas pic.twitter.com/9bvu9bIX6V
— MAN v FAT (@manvfat) April 19, 2022
Eight years later the group has helped numerous men slim down to a size they feel comfortable with.
Speaking to Richard Crick, the Head of Football at MANvFAT, he mentioned that only 1 in 2 out of 10 men receive support around their weight loss.
“We have thousands of men who have lost weight on the programme, whether it be three stone, five stone or whatever it may be”
"It’s not just the weight loss that changes in the men. It’s the confidence, it’s the mental health and everything that comes with it.
"We have had guys’ who have said it’s only changed their lives, it’s saved their lives."
The website as of the 31st of March states that they have reached a goal of 402,677.80 LB between its members.
One example of this was Charlie Roberts, a parts Advisor, who lost 7st through the programme.
Roberts said: It’s been amazing since losing the weight! I’ve got more confidence, I feel so much better in my health and I met the most amazing girl who is always driving me. Life’s looking good.
Another user Karl Proud, a factory worker lost five stone through the MANvFAT programme.
Before starting the programme Proud weighed 16st 8lbs, 232lbs) and now weighs 11st 3lbs, 157lbs)
When asked what he would say to people who are self conscious about their weight and joining the programme, Proud said: "Just do it! It’s definitely helped me. No one judges you based on your size. Everybody is equal when we play football.
I'm kinda in a bad mood tonight after having a really good day.
But I did manage to lose 10% of my bodyweight since starting Man V Fat Football tonight.
Only one more 11Hr shift this week to go.
Small victories ✌️ pic.twitter.com/kV4HXR7dnl
— Kingsy kinda sucks (@shaunofa1000) November 10, 2021
The group recently travelled to Ireland to expand its organisation and help Ireland’s men tackle its own growing weight issue.
Visit’s to Irish locations such as Galway, Limerick, Cork, Dublin and Waterford gave the group a good sense of what problem’s Ireland had when it comes to weight.
According to a study by the World Health Organisation published in 2015,”89 percent of Irish men will be overweight by 2030, and nearly half obese.
That’s up from 74 percent overweight, and 26 percent obese in 2010 in one of Europe’s fattest nations.
When asked what they learnt after visiting Ireland Mansell Normansell said that it was “very similar to the UK”.
There is definitely a hunger for a male weight loss programme in Ireland", he said
"We know that Ireland is a nation of football fanatics and I think what we plan to do will really help people."
One of the biggest reasons for the company's move to Ireland is to replace help fill a support gap as the well known Weight Watchers brand that no longer operates in Ireland.
In a statement published by The Sun, the company said: 'WW International, Inc. is acquiring WW Ireland. In connection with this acquisition, WW Ireland is ceasing all workshops (in-person and virtual) and other business operations (at home) in Ireland as of December 31, 2021.
Mental health is a big issue that seems to be hitting men harder than women according to statistics.
The National Suicide Research Foundation (2016) indicated the highest rate of suicide in Ireland for male was 30 per 100,000 population, aged 20–24, while that of female was approximately 7 per 100,000 population aged 50–54 between 2007 and 2015.
The topic is a key aspect of the group's ethos and seeing the likes of Ireland's problem with it was a 'real eye opener" for the pair when visiting Ireland.
The bridges along Limerick’s river Shannon are monitored every night of the week, with Limerick's Suicide Watch and another voluntary group, Corbett Suicide Prevention Limerick and while walking, Crick and Normansell noticed local pastor's monitoring the bridge for people looking to take their own life.
According to both Normansell and Crick the growth in Ireland is expected to happen around January 2023.
"We not only hope that we can improve the physical side of men, the way people speak to other people, confidence, not only that but also the mental side too, when we make the move to Ireland in January in 2023", Crick said
You can get involved with MANvFAT and find all the Irish clubs that signed up as partners on the site. You can also register for a league.
It's a £10pound registration fee and £28.50 in the UK
The fee for Ireland has yet to be decided.
What better way to start the week, than sharing something hugely inspiring.
An Incredible 400,000LBS of weight has been lost by the members of the @manvfat Football⚽ community!
Want to learn more about MAN v FAT Football? https://t.co/t4H4A9K8gt#MensHealth #weightmanagement pic.twitter.com/UDNgNnrBvc
— One You East Sussex (@OneYouESussex) April 4, 2022