Lifestyle

Men becoming more health conscious | Timi Gustafson, R.D.

According to Men’s Health Magazine, Boise, Idaho, is the new place to be for men who look for health, happiness and quality of life. The magazine conducts regular surveys on health issues and, among other criteria, points out geographical differences. Other advantageous places in the United States are San Francisco and San Jose, California. All three cities scored high marks for physical and mental health for a number of reasons, including low crime rates and relatively short commuting times.

The survey, which is based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other government agencies, also suggests that men’s interest in health and wellness issues is on the rise.

That in itself is newsworthy. Statistically, men are four times less likely to consult with a doctor than women when they encounter health problems, which often lands them in the emergency room when more timely measures could have prevented further deterioration.

Men are slowly getting better at it, but they still could learn more from women how to take care of their health needs, says Mike Shallcross, an associate editor at Men’s Health in an interview with BBC.

“Men have a reluctance to ask for help or admit they have a problem about anything,” says Peter Baker of Men’s Health Forum. “Men are generally in poorer health [than women], with a worse diet. They are more likely to smoke and be alcoholics. The majority doesn’t do enough [exercising] to make any difference to their health.”

“Historically, women have always been the custodians of health in the family,” says Dr. Colin Cooper, a professor at the Institute for Cancer Research (http://www.icr.ac.uk/) (ICR), London, Great Britain. “Men tend not to talk about health.”

All this may be changing. The greatest discrepancies between the sexes used to be between the ages of 16 and 44 and then narrowed until the age of 75 when older men sought medical help in greater numbers than women. But nowadays the gender divide diminishes much sooner, according to the BBC report.

There is still much work to be done, especially in terms of health education and preventive measures. According to statistics (http://www.cdc.gov/men/az/statistics.htm) issued by the CDC, men are worse off than women on almost every account when it comes to health status and health-promoting lifestyle. Men are more likely to have weight problems due to poor eating habits and lack of physical activity. They are at higher risk to develop high blood pressure, heart disease, and to suffer a heart attack or stroke. Prostate cancer affects nearly as many men as breast cancer does women, but few undergo periodical screening for early detection.

What keeps men from seeking medical counsel more often? In part it may be embarrassment and discomfort when it comes to addressing issues of anatomy and bodily functions, says Dr. Patricia MacNair (http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/menshealth/feature/manormouse.htm) who specializes in geriatric medicine. Some men avoid intimate examination for as long as they can. Women do not seem to have such hung-ups, she says. Part of that is cultural.

A younger generation of men will hopefully be able to overcome the inhibitions of their forbearers and take more responsibility for their well-being. The signs are good. Men’s Health magazine has a global readership (http://www.rodaleinc.com/newsroom/emmens-healthem-reports-strong-circulation-growth-key-markets-worldwide) in the tens of millions and growing.

Timi Gustafson RD, LDN, is a registered dietitian, newspaper columnist, blogger and author of the book “The Healthy Diner – How to Eat Right and Still Have Fun,” which is available on her blog, “Food and Health with Timi Gustafson R.D.” (http://www.timigustafson.com), and at amazon.com. You can follow Timi on Twitter (http://twitter.com/TimiGustafsonRD) and on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/TimiGustafsonRD).

 

 

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