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Healthy Eating! Where are the men in this picture?

Friday, February 20, 2009
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Dr. Richard Schubert, an internist in private practice in Washington, told of a male patient in his 50's with absolutely outrageous cholesterol levels, around 400. Dr. Schubert urged him to take a statin, one of a stunningly effective class of drugs that can make cholesterol levels plummet. What did the patient do? ''He takes the medication for six weeks and doesn't renew his prescription,'' Dr. Schubert said. ''He never came back for a follow-up.''

Dr. Michler, the heart surgeon, noted: ''It gets to the heart of this whole male concept of manliness and virility and the ability not to cry for help. They are out there playing.'' If athletes can play through injuries, men reason, ''What's a little heart disease?'' Dr. Michler said.

This is a fact, for studies show that when it comes to following a healthy diet and lifestyle, women seem to be taking the lead.

What is it that is stopping men from taking an initiative?

A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association observed that today's adults lack the time to sit down to a meal, and that may be pushing them to make less-than healthy food choices. 35 percent of males who participated in this study cited the same as being a barrier to healthy eating. (1)

Studies on Indian men show that `inability of the health care provider to provide individualized diet advice and self management training' was the most modifiable barrier to ensure compliance to the diet prescribed. (2)

More evidence!!!

"Men Would Rather Die Than Diet"- This is what a study conducted in January 2007 among 813 British men observed. Truly, when it comes to `diet'ing and following a healthy lifestyle, women seem to be taking the lead. (3)

In the above mentioned study, majority (40 percent) of the participants accepted that lack of willpower as the single, biggest barrier. Other hurdles were their perception of diet `taking too long' and being `too boring'.  In fact, 50 per cent said heart problems would motivate them to lose weight, 41 per cent high blood pressure, and 30 per cent diabetes.

These findings were also supported by The Riverina study conducted among rural Australian men (in September 2008). According to this study the major barriers to eating a healthy diet were lack of willpower (39%), lack of time (24%) and enjoying eating "unhealthy" foods (24%). (4)

In spite of so much being written in the media about men being at a higher risk for heart diseases and diabetes, the motivation factor still seems to be low.

How can we, as Healthcare providers ensure compliance to healthy eating among men?

What can we do to attract men into the debate that preventive care needs to be taken seriously NOW, rather than as a knee jerk reaction to a catastrophic illness? 

  1. Through awareness programs on diet and lifestyle?
  2. Place emphasis on more comprehensive preventive screening?
  3. Provide online health care to ensure anonymity? 
  4. Encourage them to talk without being judgmental or critical?

Any suggestions? Observations in your practice?

By, The Dietetic Team @

Post a comment  Healthy Eating! Where are the men in this picture?

1.    Journal of the American Dietetic Association, January 2009.
2.    J Assoc Physicians India. 2008 Jan;56:27-32.
4.    The Riverina Men' study- O'Kane, Gabrielle Maria ; Black, Deborah ; Craig, Pippa ; Thorpe, Christine, International Journal of Men's Health, 22-SEP-08



User Comments

11 October, 2010 | Sangeetha Narayana Swamy | Reply

Sangeetha Narayana Swamy Though all of us know that maintaining a healthy lifestyle, eating a nutritious diet, limiting the alcohol intake and not smoking is the best way of protecting our health, be it men or women. But, most of us think that we are or will not be prone to impaired glucose, high lipids, high BP etc and are in denial that it could happen to us. What we need to understand is, stress also plays an important role in wrecking our health and now a days many young professionals are prone to work stress, therefore keeping a tab on our health becomes one of the important aspect.

04 September, 2010 | Pavan | Reply

Pavan Men always feel that they are way stronger than the women, so it is natural for them to neglect any injuries and variations in their health. As a family, the members should decide that they are will undergo a complete health check on or after their respective birthdays, be it kids or adults. This way anything wrong with the system can be detected earlier. This also instills a sense of responsibility in the children about the importance of health.

04 September, 2010 | Mrinal | Reply

Mrinal Pavan,
You have spoken words of wisdom indeed, and your insight into the need for men to take an interest in prevention and checkups for all family members including themselves in the best advise yet.

Do you have any specific suggestions for other men like you - of steps they can take to keeping their family safe and healthy.
Thank you for your observation.

07 June, 2010 | Kanika Jain | Reply

Kanika Jain I personally feel that even the employers can play a role in taking initiatives for preventive health care.
Annual screening check ups should be made mandatory for all the employees so that ailments,if any, may be detected at nascent stage and appropriate
measures can be taken.
Also, regular health awareness programmes may be conducted by them for employees.
Many organisations today even provide facilities like gymnasiums and provisions for various sports in their office premises to show their commitment towards well being of their human employees.

Kanika Jain

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