Stomach and moobs top the list of physical concerns for midlife men

Date Published

27th September 2016




Research carried out for alcohol education charity, Drinkaware, into middle-aged male drinkers shows just one in seven (14%) are happy with their body shape with the stomach (80%) and 'moobs' or male mammary glands (44%) topping the list of areas they’d like to change.

The results showed that middle-aged men who drank alcohol were most likely to say that they would take up running/walking/cycling (approx. 87%), cut back on alcohol (approx. 79%) or join a gym (65%) in an effort to improve their physique. A significant 15% would even consider cosmetic surgery to rectify their problem areas.

Over a thousand midlife men (aged 40-65) answered the survey carried out in August by research company Toluna for Drinkaware’s Have A Little Less, Feel A Lot Better campaign which encourages men to cut back on their drinking.

According to Health Survey for England 2014, 80% of 45-64 year old men are overweight to morbidly obese and 36% are obese or morbidly obese.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, Drinkaware’s medical adviser explains:

“Alcohol has almost the same calories per gram as fat, which often comes as a surprise to men. With an average pint of beer containing over 180 calories, it only takes three pints a day to add up to the equivalent of two greasy burgers – which isn’t great if you’re doing that several times a week. Regularly exceeding the low risk guidelines can also put men at risk of serious health conditions like cancer, liver disease and depression.

"If you’re trying to get trim, remember that alcohol makes you want bad food as drinking lowers your blood sugar, making your insulin levels drop. This means you crave carbohydrates and salty foods, so the more alcohol you have, the more you want that kebab – which could mean piling on the pounds.”

Drinkaware’s Research and Insight Manager, Andrew Russell said:

“We know from our research that men, in particular, can neglect their health and 3.5 million of them regularly exceed the recommended lower risk guidelines. The problem is if they’re in their late 40s, carrying too much weight and regularly exceeding the advice, then they could be storing up health problems for the future.

“Our research shows that men do care about what they look like, and whilst they know how to rectify it they aren’t following it through with healthy living choices.

“We know that if these drinkers reduced their alcohol intake by at least one pint or glass of wine in each session then it will vastly improve their long-term health.*”

Chris Walker, aged 57 from West London is a regular drinker who has been following the Have A Little Less, Feel A lot Better advice for six weeks and undertook a liver blood test at the London Clinic to assess the effect of alcohol on his body.

“I hadn’t realised that my alcohol intake could have contributed to my health problems, I guessed that the alcohol might affect my weight but I was shocked to find that my liver count was high.

"The consultant spelt out that I needed to make some changes and that was a real wake-up call, since then I try and make sure I’m having one less pint or that I swap from strong cider to a low-strength lager. I didn’t realise that I drank out of habit.”

Drinkaware has created a free, interactive tool to help people understand what a small change in their drinking would mean to them, alongside help and advice and videos to support them to cut down on their drinking. Further information can be found on the Drinkaware website here


  • Toluna surveyed 1,034 men aged 40-65 who regularly drink alcohol for Drinkaware during August 2016
  • Alcohol-related mortality data by weekly units consumed data from Holmes J et al. (2016) 'Mortality and morbidity risks from alcohol consumption in the UK: Analyses using the Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model (v.2.7) to inform the UK Chief Medical Officers' review of the UK lower risk drinking guidelines', ScHARR, University of Sheffield. Assumptions:
    1 drink = c.2.3 units. Therefore 5 drinks = 11 units.

*45-64-year-old men who drink over the low-risk guidelines drink 37 units/week on average. If a typical man drinking at this level who drinks on 5 days a week were to cut out just one drink on each day he drank then his risk of an alcohol-related death would fall from 9.1% to 4.9%. Essentially almost cutting the risk in half.

Recommended guidelines are currently 14 units per week

  • Drinkaware commissioned Ipsos MORI to conduct a survey of UK adults in November/December 2015 to examine their drinking patterns and behaviours, their attitudes towards alcohol and drinking and their experiences of cutting down or attempting to cut down the amount of alcohol they drink.