Bearing in mind the British Army has 102,000 full time personnel, this is a pretty shocking statistic.
Men are more likely than women to drink alcohol above recommended levels(ii) and smoke cigarettes(ii), as well as eat a poorer diet(iii) with almost 31% of boys and 65% of men now overweight or obese(iv).
Attitudes to health are also different between the sexes. Not only do men visit their GP half as much as women, they embark upon riskier behaviours that put their health a risk (ii). Mental health issues such as depression are also becoming more common and are often left undiagnosed as men fail to recognise warning signs, downplay symptoms and tend not to talk or receive treatment (v).
Mortality rates in men
According to The Office for National Statistics (i) lists the main causes of death in men are:
1. Heart disease (16.1%)
2. Lung cancer (7.2%)
3. Stroke (6.1%)
4. Chronic respiratory diseases (5.8%)
5. Dementia/Alzheimer's (5.1%)
6. Prostate cancer (4.1%)
With women, the risk of certain diseases such as prostate and colon cancer, heart disease and stroke is greater in later life
Laying the foundations of a healthy lifestyle are paramount in young men to avoid problems in later life, as well as targeting and educating our current middle to older age groups to receive health screening and improve their diet.
There are both diet related and non-diet related ways in which men can improve health and reduce the risk of disease. We’ve come up with some tips to help you along your way.
Diet and disease prevention
Adopting a balanced diet can help to reduce the risk, or improve the state of the majority of these conditions relating to men.
Keep an eye on fats
It is well established that reducing our intake of fat (especially saturated fat) and salt can help to maintain a healthy weight and decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Try omega 3
Increasing our intake of oily fish, rich in omega 3 (salmon, mackerel and trout) is also thought to reduce certain risk factors for heart disease (vi,vii).
Eat the right foods
Research also shows that a diet high in fibre from whole grains (oats, brown rice, wholegrain bread and pasta), fruits and vegetables (especially broccoli, kale and cabbage) and less processed meats may help to lessen the chances of developing bowel cancer (viii). Specific antioxidants found in colourful fruits and vegetables such as lycopene (tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit) are considered to probably reduce the risk of prostate cancer (viii).
Non-dietary ways to improve health
There are also other non-dietary ways men can improve their health, primarily by becoming more physically active.
Up your daily step count
Walking more and driving less or taking the stairs at work are all simple ways of using up calories and getting the heart rate up. Just remember that every little helps and those extra steps could make all the difference.
Avoid smoking and too much alcohol
Quitting smoking and limiting the amount of alcohol drunk each week can also lessen the chances of developing certain cancers, liver disease and risk factors associated with heart disease, such as being overweight and high blood pressure.
Visiting the GP at the first signs or symptoms of disease could also mean early diagnosis and lesson mortality rates amongst men.
(i)England and Wales, Office for National Statistics (2012). Deaths registered by cause, sex and age.
(ii)England and Wales, Office for National Statistics (2012). General Health Survey 2010.
(iii)Department of Health (2012). National Diet and Nutrition Survey Headline Results from Years 1, 2 and 3 (combines) of the Rolling Programme 2008/09 – 2010/11.
(iv) Department of Health (2012). Health Survey for England 2011, health, social care and lifestyles.
(v) Office of National Statistics (2003). Better or Worse: A Longitudinal Study of the Mental Health of adults in Great Britain.
(vi) He K, Song Y, Daviglus ML et al (2004). Accumulated evidence on fish consumption and coronary heart disease mortality: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. Circulation; 109:2705-11.
(vii) Whelton SP, He J, Whelton PK, Muntner P (2004). Meta-analysis of observational studies on fish intake and coronary heart disease. Am J Cardiol; 93:1119-23.
(viii) World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (2007). Food, nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective, Washington, DC. AICR.