The number of obese men is rising sharply in England, official figures show
The proportion of adults in England who are an unhealthy size has soared over the past 15 years with one in four now seriously overweight.
There have always been more obese women than men but the gap between the genders has now been cancelled out.
In addition, the number of overweight women has fallen in recent years while the number of morbidly obese men is rising sharply.
This comes as a new report by the Office for National Statistics uncovers wide discrepancies in men and women's health and working lives.
Health experts believe the narrowing obesity gap shows how schemes to tackle the country's weight problem are having less effect on men, with women more likely to go on diets or join a gym.
They warn that the country's obesity epidemic, caused by an increase in consumption of junk food and a decline in exercise levels, will lead to increased levels of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum said: "Men are notoriously bad at looking after their health and women are much more motivated.”
The statistics show that the proportion of obese men rose from 13 per cent in 1993 to 24 per cent in 2006. The number of morbidly obese men has risen from 0.2 per cent of the male population to 1.5 per cent over the same period, while 43 per cent are now overweight.
By contrast, the proportion of obese women over 16 rose from 16 per cent in 2003 to 24 per cent in 2004 and fell by a fraction the following year. The number of overweight women has fallen from 34 per cent to 32 per cent since 2004.
The ONS's annual Focus on Gender report also showed the death rate from alcohol has doubled for men to 18.3 per 100,000 over the past 15 years, and risen from 5 to 8.8 for women.
Women can expect to live to 70.3 (and men to 67.9) but will spend their last six years in poor health, it is claimed.
The report also shows that the proportion of unmarried men and women living together has doubled between 1986 and 2006, with 13 per cent of those aged 16 to 59 now cohabiting.
Seven million people also live alone, two-thirds of them women.
Girls continue to outperform boys at all ages, from national tests for seven-year-olds to degree level, but men continue to earn more than women. The gender pay gap, now at its narrowest value since records began, now stands at 12.6 per cent.
The number of men and women in employment is now almost equal, with more than two-thirds of mothers now in work. However half of women are in part-time jobs compared with just one in six men.