‘She’ll be right’ is wrong when it comes to Queensland men’s health

More than half of Queensland men are unhappy with their bodies, a new study has found.

The research revealed that 54 per cent are unhappy with their body shape and weight and one in four men frequently feel anxious or depressed.

The study was undertaken by the Queensland Government-funded lifestyle program My health for life, which is led by Diabetes Queensland.

Program director Lyn Hamill said despite male concerns, Queensland men over-estimate how healthy they are, and this is a problem.

“There is a total disconnect about what men think is healthy compared to how they live their lives,” Ms Hamill said.

“While they believe their health is important, they don’t think their lifestyle choices puts them at risk of developing serious health issues.

“Maybe it’s because they are over-confident about their health, in denial, or don’t know enough about health issues to weigh up their situation.

“However you look at it, more than half of Queensland men believe they don’t have to worry.”

More than 1200 men took part in the state-wide research which was released at a briefing for community groups, health workers and government representatives at Parliament House this week.

Ms Hamill said an underlying theme was that Queensland men believe they are doing enough to be healthy, so the rest would take care of itself.

Other findings included:

  • Queensland men have a taste for “treat” foods, such as chocolate, sweets, cake, soft drink and flavoured milk, indulging on a weekly basis. Younger men have the biggest sweet tooth.
  •  65 per cent of men eat junk food weekly and regularly eat processed food, takeaway and convenience meals. Only 7 per cent eat enough vegetables yet many rate their diet as healthy or even very healthy.
  • Two in five men drink alcohol to risky levels while men 55 and over drink minimal water.
  • Lack of motivation is the biggest barrier to exercise with younger men in their 20s and 30s often feeling too tired.
  • Negative language such as “flabby and pot belly” is how many describe their abdomen area, but it is regional men who are more likely to understand that a “big belly” carries health risks. About three in five Queensland men are overweight or obese.
  • Risk factors and the seriousness of chronic disease is not well understood – 60 per cent of men do not think pre-diabetes is serious, although a high percentage potentially have risk factors for the condition. (They did wonder though how it impacted on their sex life.)
  • 60% of men say they do not like to make a “fuss” about their health, citing costs or the belief they are already in good shape as barriers to doing more, or seeking professional health help. Younger men opt to “self-manage” turning to the internet for health help.

Ms Hamill said the research also highlighted some heartening trends: men in the 40-55 range were more likely to be open to support and advice to change habits while those 65 and older will have already made some positive health changes, such as increasing their vegetable consumption.

“It’s clear there is also a role for partners, friends and family members, influencing and supporting their fathers, brothers, husbands and sons to think and behave differently about their health.

“Ultimately, it’s an important wake up call to men themselves that they must act before it’s too late, ” she said.

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