I recently read an article relating to men’s health which was based on ongoing research by Professor Alan White, Director of the Centre for Men’s Health at Leeds Metropolitan University. Professor White was asked by the European Commission to look at men’s health, and the report he produced distilled data from 34 European countries. The good news is that it showed some patterns which are expected to have a positive influence on men’s health policy throughout the region.
He found that poor lifestyle choices and other preventable risk factors account for illness, and even premature death in men. Men can also be reluctant to seek medical advice which may result in more advanced disease progression at the time of detection.
But his findings are also heartening because it means that the perceived health disadvantages men face are not entirely genetic, and that they can be remedied, at least in part, by targeted policies and positive action.
Other key findings from the report relate to higher rates of death because of men’s riskier lifestyles, and the fact that they remain under-informed about health issues. This is something which particularly concerns me. Women’s magazines positively buzz with information about health and fitness, and whole sections are regularly given over to questions and answers relating to medical problems, diseases and tests available on the NHS. There are not as many men’s magazines, and their focus can sometimes be different, although publications such as Men’s Fitness do provide advice on nutrition and exercise as a means to attaining an active, healthy and balanced lifestyle – which is great.
Professor White’s findings will hopefully be a catalyst for change because he found that even countries with the best health outcomes still had significant numbers of premature male deaths, as well as substantial gaps between the health of men in the most and least affluent environments.
So there is plenty still to be done, but Professor White’s work is vitally important to learning more, as well as taking positive action on men’s health issues.