By Bill Briggs, NBC News
Fellas, you're chillingly aware, no doubt, of what goes down when cold water contacts your most precious appendage: "shrinkage."
Now, some obesity watchdogs are worried that you may be too plump to see your own private parts, a.k.a: "blockage."
This fall, British health advocates surveyed 1,000 U.K. males and found that 33 percent of guys between 35 and 60 years old possess guts so rotund, their bellies form a full eclipse of their genitalia when the men stand and take a gander down south. This blubbery blind spot leaves such men more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease and other health problems, recent research has shown. The group WeLoveOurHealth.co.uk conducted the poll.
In fact, the wellness and marketing experts behind that website recently launched a national campaign in England, using that crude-yet-quick assessment to urge bulging boys to adopt immediate lifestyle changes. They've dubbed it "The Big Check." And here we thought the Brits were so stuffy.
WeLoveOurHealth -- headed by wellbeing specialist Daryl Taylor and Dr. Sarah Brewer, a nutritionist -- conducted its survey through phone interviews and face-to-face questioning sessions, Taylor said. The small organization is privately funded (Taylor and Brewer are paying expenses out of pocket). Its mission is "all about men's health - from action plans for lifestyle to diet plans for maintaining weight to prevention to health assessments," Taylor said. "Men can ask questions about their health through our site and get answers within 24 hours. This is great because men tend to like to do things at their ease and in their own time and often often don't want to go to the doctor."
Would a similar push on U.S. soil find a receptive audience among the bulbous dudes in this country? Imagine a male doctor in the states telling his male patient: "Please disrobe and rise to your feet. If you'll now look toward your toes you'll notice you can't even see your own manhood." There's a semi-decent chance the doc won't be slapped with a malpractice suit so much as slugged in the chops.
"You've got to know you're patient really well, know what they're sensitivies are. Some men may not take kindly to that kind of approach," said Dr. Sanjay Jain, a practicing physician in the Washington, D.C. area.
But while he's cautious about ensuring the proper delivery of that message, Jain said he "absolutely endorses" the big-check idea as a practical method for American doctors to perhaps finally convince certain overweight men to trim the fat.
"Are we doing a good job winning this obesity battle? No, we're losing. Clearly, we've tried different methods as physicans and health professionals to get the message out to lose weight," Jain said.
"If it works, why not? Every patient has a different message that they can relate to. When it comes to male patients, they don't see the doctor that often - women tend to go more than males. But when it comes to dealing with their private parts, if there's anything at all wrong down there, men do not hesitate to go see their doctor. So I think it's interesting that in the U.K., they're using the sensitivity that males have in that area and leveraging it to promote weight loss."
In his Utah town of American Fork (ironic, given the topic of this story), Adam Torkildson admits the routing is part of his private health maintenance.
"I have used this test so many times I can't even count it anymore," said Torkildson, 29. "It works best while in the shower. While standing fully, you (drop your) head down about 80 to 90 degrees. If you can't see your junk, you've got some work to do."
As someone who earns a living in public relations and marketing, Torkildson agrees with Jain that an American version of "The Big Check" would catch on and help some men finally see their shortcomings - dietarily speaking.
"I love quirky campaigns like this," he said, "and I would love to see American campaigns surrounding this idea. It would be super fun, and probably do some really good things for male health."
Jain, who writes health blog in addition to doctoring, already advocates a similar - yet less colorful - tactic for males to monitor their stomach girth as a gauge for potential illness. His commonly-used test involves wrapping a tape measure around the hips then comparing that distance to the number of inches if takes to loop the tape around the widest part of the buttocks. To do the math, divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.
The National Institute of Diabetes reports that women with waist-hip ratios of more than 0.8, and men with more than 1.0, are at increased health risk because of their fat distribution. An ideal ratio is 0.7, Jaiin said.
"But who's doing to sit down with a calculator and punch out numbers? That takes time," he added. "So why not create real reference points? "What I like about this (junk check) is, while it may be a crude judging tool, it's certainly not a bad eyeball test."