Men, health and a TV camera
18 November 2014

An interesting week. I had a screen test for one of the digital channels, for a new series on men’s health. They are looking for a doctor to present the programme, someone who could talk easily to men about their health, and often very personal problems. I’ve made a few documentaries over the years, but most have been on my pet subject of weight, diet, and exercise. Not all though. I played a part in a series on BBC3 called “The Indestructibles”. It featured all kinds of different medical issues that would be of interest to their young audience, including some that I couldn’t dare mention here. So, I don’t just do “weighty issues”. But the truth about men’s health is that so many of the particular features of what most affects men, merge with, you’ve got it, weight, diet and exercise.

26% of men in this country ore obese, and up to two thirds carry excess weight. This in turn puts them at risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer. It can also lead to impotence, arthritis in the lower back, hips and knees, and can lead to sleep apnoea and breathing problems, not to mention low self esteem and depression. Cancer of the throat and mouth is more common in single men, in their 60’s, who have a poor diet, drink too much alcohol and are overweight. Prostate cancer is more common in obese men, but additionally, when it occurs, it’s seen to be much more aggressive in obese men too. Gout is very common too if you are overweight and a heavy drinker. And, needless to say, all of these conditions can be prevented, managed, or improved by better diet, exercise, and weight loss. 

The screen test was a fascinating experience. Part of the plan is for the programme to engage men out and about in the towns and cities and to ask them, in full public view, about their health concerns. Now, I have often said that men are very private when it comes to their health. However, put a TV camera in front of them and it alls seems to change. I was amazed as we walked through the streets of London how many men were not just willing, but keen to talk to me, a stranger, albeit a medically qualified one, about their lifestyle, their relationships, their symptoms, and their worries. In fact, it was a humbling experience. It would be great the have the opportunity to be involved in this production. There is so much we can do to help men, of all ages, regain control of their lives and health. If only they knew how to. Fingers crossed.