Girth Control

Yes, Girth Control.

Abdominal Girth is a simple metric that I use in men’s health. No matter what condition a bloke might consult me about (sports injury, back pain, frozen shoulder or prostate cancer) I will likely measure his abdominal circumference. I will then let him know how he rates against the optimal girth for an adult male – 95cm or below. Abdominal girth is an indicator of stored visceral fat around the internal organs.

For every centimetre over 95cm his likelihood of developing any of the following conditions is increased:

  • Bowel Cancer
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Type II Diabetes
  • Degenerative Joint Disease (arthritis)

In 2020 I was looking for a way to improve the health for members of the local Men’s Shed in Buderim (Qld). I already knew they had a problem as I had been measuring them for six years and the average girth was increasing. In 2013, 23% of members were 95cm or less around their belly, however in 2020 this had dropped to only 16% of members. And this was despite the members being counselled, educated and occasionally berated each year with threats about their likely demise. It was obvious that the individual responsibility approach was failing consistently.

Which is not surprising, as reducing girth requires a huge effort to change food choices, from shopping to cooking to eating. Not just what you eat, but how much and when. Changing habits and preferences is difficult at any time – could a bunch of blokes over the age of 60 rewire their brains to improve their health outcomes?

The Girth Control Project

Sixty volunteers from the Buderim Men’s Shed were measured for abdominal girth in December 2020. Their cumulative total girth was 62.79cm. They were then challenged as a group to lose a combined 100cm of girth by Easter (April) 2021.

They were provided with information on various strategies to reduce stored visceral fat including portion control, intermittent fasting, food substitutions and exclusions. They were also subject to occasional, unannounced measuring sessions during the four month program and given encouragement to persist and mix their strategies to find what worked best for them or at least provided a fresh challenge.

You can find the results for the Buderim Men’s Shed here.

You can find information on the various strategies the men employed in their attempts to reduce their girth here.

You can then run the project for your group of blokes, whether it be a Men’s Shed, a sports team, a workplace or a family group. All the information to run your own Girth Control Project is included here.