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Trim Down Shape Up - A weight management service for men

Trim Down Shape Up - A weight management service for men
ABL Health
Contact email address
Publication year 2013
Date entered into repository28 October 2013
Trim Down Shape up is a Wigan Council Weight Management service for men in Wigan delivered by ABL Health. It is one part of Wigan Council's provision for weight management. A whole host of programmes for men and women are available under the banner of 'Lose Weight Feel Great' these include; a 12 week Community Weight Management Programme, a consultant led Specialist Weight Management Service, a Health Trainer service for healthy lifestyle support and support for pregnant women and their families.
What did you do? Briefly describe what was involved in your case study
Trim Down Shape Up was commissioned by Wigan Council specifically to increase the number of males accessing weight management services in Wigan as an analysis showed that 91% of callers in the first 20 months of Lose Weight Feel Great were female. This lack of engagement by men was disturbing as the prevalence of male obesity in the UK is among the highest in Europe and is forecast to increase at a faster rate than female obesity over the next 35 years (Grey et al., 2013). 65% of English men are now considered overweight or obese with 14,000 male deaths each year directly associated with obesity in England alone (Almond, 2008). 
Men are however, much less likely to access weight management programmes than women and are less likely to perceive themselves as obese. Through research ABL discovered that men viewed 'weight loss' as a feminine problem (Wilkins, 2007), and that there is a masculine reluctance to admit vulnerability, which in turn results in fewer males seeking professional help (Gough, 2007). Men therefore, require services which are in tune with male sensibilities and which reflect a male world view (Wilkins, 2007). Men respond differently to specific promotional messages (Damian Edwards, 2013).  Examples include the branding of Coke Zero, to encourage males to buy the product (e.g. removing the word 'Diet' from the product). Men can, and do engage in health promoting behaviours and with services if this process can be legitimated in ways that help sustain their masculine identity (Robertson 2006, 2007).   
ABL quickly realised that men do not want to sit in a group and talk about why they became overweight, neither do they want to log what they are eating, count points or shout out whether they have lost or gained weight. The traditional weight loss model does not appeal to men. As a result of these findings the Trim Down Shape Up brand and programme was designed based on consumer need and the evidence base.  ABL Health worked closely with the Men's Health Forum, the Centre for Men's Health, national academics and Wigan men to develop a tailored programme which includes specific design and branding factors to make it more easily accessible and attractive to men. ABL's approach reflects a 'male view'. Trim Down Shape Up is promoted as 'free fitness sessions for men' and challenges clients to 'take charge of their health'. 
What was the outcome/result of your case study?
Trim Down Shape up has been evaluated in a number of ways. In September 2013 Leeds Metropolitan University published a paper entitled: 'A process evaluation of Trim Down Shape Up a bespoke male-specific weight management intervention'. The study evaluated men's experiences of taking part in this weight-management programme. The University reported that all the men who participated in the study found the design of the programme, i.e. free of charge, male-specific and outside the traditional gym environment, as very suitable for their needs and the main reason they attended the first session. 
The group camaraderie was the dominant factor that motivated the men to attend the subsequent sessions. Other contributing factors for sticking to the programme included the feeling of achieving not only the goals the men set themselves but also losing 5% of their weight in 12 weeks. All men reported a determination to maintain a healthier lifestyle in the future. The use of behavioural change techniques by the lifestyle coaches also helped the men to become healthier. 
Their report concluded that although recruiting men in health improvement and weight loss interventions still remains a challenge the evidence from this evaluation offers positive insights into how to attract men to these activities. They concluded that their study adds to the existing evidence showing how men learn, adopt and stick to a 12 week weight loss programme in a sports related setting. A second research paper is being undertaken to follow up the men at 8 and 12 months after they have completed the programme. 
An independent review of the TDSU service was undertaken by Leeds Beckett University in 2014 ‘To understand the psychosocial impact of men’s engagement in the Trim Down Shape Up Programme’. The Qualitative study identified the main Psychosocial motivations for joining TDSU. The key design characteristics of the TDSU programme such as location, activities and a male specific environment were identified as significant influencing factors. The impact of regular engagement in TDSU is identified, namely; improvements in physical health, diet, psychological health and social wellbeing were experienced alongside the weight loss. This is best summised by one of the participnats who was quoted to have said “What makes Trim Down Shape Up different from other organisations is, I like to think of it as a lad’s night out, but with exercise instead of beer. Because it’s all blokes, you’re all the same, kind of, place in where you are, and where you want to be, and you’re all in it for the same thing, and you have a good laugh.” 
With support from expert advisors ABL set up a national steering group for men's weight management in 2012. This group meets twice a year and acts as a forum for the sharing of good practice and research in the field of weight management for men. It reviews the latest research and evidence and identifies successes and barriers to the programmes. Organisations who attend included Fit Fans, Go Men's Health - St Helen's, Fit Blokes -Dudley, Inform - Coventry, Health of Men - Bradford, Southwark Council, Motivate - Notts County FC, South Tees NHS Trust, Leeds University, the Men's Health Forum etc. Within this steering group the Trim Down Shape Up branding and programme has been praised for its innovation and appropriateness for the target group.  
More informationRead more
  • Adults
  • Obesity
What audience is your case study relevant to?
  • Health Professional
  • Local government
  • Voluntary/Community Sector