NEWMARKET – There is an underlying assumption that men’s biological make up puts them at higher risk for developing chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Perhaps biology has something to do with it, but lifestyle choices may also be a compounding factor. Studies show that men consistently engage in unhealthier lifestyle behaviours compared to women - particularly, when it comes to nutrition and eating habits.
According to several studies, men’s diets are less healthy and less nutritious than women’s diets. In York Region, 67 per cent of men and 55 per cent of women do not meet the daily recommended minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables (Health Status Report, 2002). This is especially troublesome for men since there is strong evidence that consumption of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke.
A recent Statistics Canada survey found that men of all ages consume more meat than women. Meat is a primary source of fat and studies have found that a diet high in fat is linked to increased risk of heart disease, prostate and colorectal cancers. According to the same survey1, the percentage of overweight men in Ontario was almost 41 per cent versus 31 per cent for women. Carrying excess weight, especially around the abdomen, increases a person’s risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
There are many factors that contribute to the differences between men’s and women’s eating habits. Many studies on this issue often conclude that men do not make health a top priority and are more concerned with their macho image . In addition, women are more likely than men to read nutrition labels and emphasize nutrition when purchasing food (74% vs. 57%) .
The following are some tips to help men eat more nutritiously:
• Aim to eat at least five servings of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables each day. If you eat either a fruit or vegetable with each meal and snack, it will be easier to achieve this recommendation
• When planning a meal, emphasize whole grain products, vegetables and fruits and lesser amounts of high fat meats
• Choose whole grained breads, buns, pasta, cereal and brown rice more often than refined grains
• Limit foods high in fat content ( i.e., baked goods)
• Pay closer attention to portion sizes, and stop eating when you feel comfortably full
For more information on healthy eating or other health-related questions, contact a Registered Dietitian through York Region Health Services Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 or visit www.york.ca
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Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, York Region Health Services
905-830-4444 Ext. 4016 or After-hours Pager (905) 830-3302