The success has resulted in publishers Northern & Shell committing to higher print runs and wider distribution, especially in the Midlands and North East where figures have shown a substantial increase.
One avid reader, Phil Mevoid from Hull, said, ‘I got sick of looking at handsome young guys with six packs smiling down from the shelves at W H Smith and getting nudged in the side by the missus. So I bought myself a copy of Paunch and I haven’t looked back. The features on ‘low definition abs’ and ‘ten steps towards guaranteed sex after ten pints of lager’ have literally changed my life and I’ll be even happier after the divorce and the court case are over.’
There has however been criticism from some health professionals who have slammed the magazine for articles such as, ‘Save Pounds: Turn your belly fat into a kids’ trampoline’ and ’18 Power foods from your local chippy’.
Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health said, ‘Magazines like this only serve to increase men’s unhealthy preoccupation with their body image. Many of the images of models are airbrushed within a millimetre of death to make them look even less attractive than they are. It really is sending out the wrong message. I manage my own lean look with a fitness regime which includes running away as fast as I can from important health issues and spectres from my past.’
But Northern & Shell boss Richard Desmond, who attended the star-studded launch of Paunch along with guest columnist Eric Pickles, said, ‘We thought it was time we stood up for men who have got the body shapes they’ve dedicated all their lives to, Total Paunch has put a bit more glitz on our newsstand and is a great tie in with our gay title, Attitude as it addresses the bear market too.’
Rumours that the publishing group are to launch a new DIY title Builder’s Crack are as yet unconfirmed.