If the average British man from the mid-1980s could have a chat with his counterpart from the turn of the millennium, chances are the conversation would sooner or later turn to their respective waistlines.
That’s because millennium man is carrying a fair bit more timber than his be-mulleted predecessor - and there is every reason to believe that this weight-gain trend is continuing as the 21st century enters its second decade.
An Oxford University study has determined that Mr Average UK’s weight ballooned by 7.7kg, or 1 stone, 3lbs. in the 14 years from 1986 to 2000 the BBC reports. The reasons are, by and large, the obvious ones: cheaper, more readily available food and a more sedentary lifestyle imposed on us in part by the decline in the number of “active” jobs and the rise of desk-bound ones.
Scientists have calculated that the difference in the amount of food consumed by the average British man in 1986 and 2000 would account for 5.4kg (11.9lb) of weight increase so the remainder is down to the less active lifestyles we lead.
Dr Peter Scarborough, senior researcher in public health at Oxford University, told the BBC: "The problem is really how people are getting around. They are driving more, cycling less and more likely to be employed in a sedentary job. Physical activity is slowly being removed from day-to-day life."
A spokesperson for the British Heart Foundation said: "Obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and stroke and contributes to premature death and poor quality of life."
The Foundation said the research was indicative of "a ticking time bomb for male health" and said that it highlights the importance of regular exercise and a balanced diet.