Consumer Focused Review Of Men’s Food Behaviour

Date: December, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-905767-51-9

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Introduction

Increasing attention has been paid to the burden of ill-health experienced by men in many Western countries. In Europe and internationally, the Republic of Ireland has been leading the way by developing a national policy for men’s health. In most countries around the world, women now have a longer life expectancy than men. Similarly, on the island of Ireland, in spite of recent increases in men’s life expectancy, men continue to have higher death rates at all ages and from all leading causes of death. In Northern Ireland, in 2010, men’s life expectancy at birth was 77.08 years (81.53 years for women), while in the Republic of Ireland, figures published in 2009 revealed that men’s life expectancy at birth was 76.8 years (compared to 81.6 years for women). Key health issues for men include circulatory diseases, cancers and respiratory diseases. In relation to food and health, obesity has been highlighted as a major concern in relation to men’s health.

While physiological difference between men and women explain some of the variation in the rate and/or onset of disease (e.g., protective effects of oestrogen in relation to the onset of cardiovascular diseases), other factors, such as socio-cultural influences, which are the main focus of this report, also play an important role. It is acknowledged that men and women experience different influences and motivations with respect to their knowledge and attitudes of and behaviours towards food and health.

The purpose of this report is therefore not to compare men with women or to encourage men to model themselves on women in relation to their food and health behaviour. Rather, the goal is to provide recommendations to improve communications, resources, interventions, education and services targeted at boys and men in relation to food.