Unhealthy food choices putting NI men at health disadvantage

editorial image

Northern Ireland men’s food-related behaviour is putting them at risk of overweight and obesity.

That’s the message today from safefood as they launch a new report on men’s food habits which highlights that almost 7 in every 10 men (69%) in Northern Ireland are overweight or obese, compared with 57% of women.

The report finds men have less healthy diets, eat more fat and salt, less fruit and vegetables, and see food as fuel.

It shows Northern Ireland men have a tendency to eat larger portions of food, are less likely to be aware of healthy eating guidelines and that many do not regard healthy eating as an important factor for their long-term health.

Even more worrying is the fact that the report reveals that men in Northern Ireland are generally complacent about their body weight issues and therefore they don’t monitor their diet or think about losing weight. They tend to see healthy eating or diet campaigns as being aimed at women only.

Dr Aileen McGloin, Scientific Support Manager, safefood said “The new year brings the inevitable resolutions for weight loss in 2015, men in Northern Ireland need to be focus on developing a better appreciation of healthy eating, improving their diet and working towards a greater awareness of the impact of what they eat on their overall health.

“The report highlights that men are generally less engaged with food both in terms of food hygiene and healthy eating, which is contributing to their greater levels of overweight and obesity in comparison to the opposite sex.

“When it comes to food preparation, some men are the main cook at home and have excellent food skills. However this report illustrates that when it comes to tasks such as planning, purchasing, shopping and cooking, women are more likely to be skilled in this area. This can make it harder for men to have a healthy approach to eating and diet, thereby resulting in poorer health outcomes.

Key findings from the report include;

· Men have a preference for larger portions.

· Their food choices are more likely to be dictated by taste, habit and convenience, whereas concerns about healthy eating are more common among women.

· Men’s knowledge and awareness of healthy eating guidelines and the connection of healthy food to good health is poor.

· Food is viewed as fuel and men tend to gauge what they need to eat against the energy they need to expend.

· Although more men than women are overweight or obese, men are less likely to attempt to lose weight or to monitor their diet.

· Socially-reinforced gender roles, sports participation, reliance on ‘convenience foods’ and a complacency about body weight issues influence men’s food behaviour.

· The media portrayal of men’s relationship with food tends to be negative and frames weight loss as solely a women’s issue.

· Men’s role with food preparation tends to be more about ‘occasion’ cooking rather than day-to-day activity.