The battle of the sexes: Who is healthier?

 

The scorecard is in and gents… let’s just say, you’ve got some work to do!

It’s been estimated that only 30% of health is determined by our genetics, so it’s our lifestyles that have the most influence our long-term health. So, when we dig a little deeper on some of the modifiable lifestyle factors known to contribute to illness and disease, this is where each of the sexes land: Men are far less healthy than women!

Ladies, we’re certainly not letting you off the hook, there is still much work to be done. Poor diet and lack of exercise is contributing to a build-up of excess weight across the female population –  increasing their risk of developing serious chronic diseases such as diabetes or breast cancer.

However, the simple reality is that men are allowing their lifestyles to compromise their health to a greater extent. As a result, the average life expectancy for men is 5 years less than for women. 

The empowering takeaway from all of this is 70% of our health is determined by factors we have control over. Our lifestyle. Leading a healthy lifestyle, effective monitoring (through self-checks) and early detection (by scheduling regular GP check-ups) are key to good health.

 

Men are reluctant to seek help…

However, this is again where men fall behind their female counterparts – with the average male having a health check every 6 years as compared to every 2 years for the women.  Meaning prevention and early detection of diseases are hindered.

There is a real reluctance to see a doctor – driven by the “she’ll be right” attitude or feeling that they have to be tough or “a real man”. These dangerous social attitudes need to be addressed to support our men in prioritising their health.

The final measure on the scorecard is mental health. At first glance, it looks like this is where the men finally have it over the ladies. With 1 in 8 men experiencing depression at some time in their lives as compared to 1 in 5 women. However, on deeper investigation, there is an alarming reality within the male population.

While women are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, they’re also more likely to seek the appropriate support. Men on the other hand, are more likely to resort to destructive behaviours – with depressed men are twice as likely to abuse alcohol/drugs. And the impact of this is certainly not a positive story. Of all suicides in Australia, 21.1% are female while a staggering 78.9% are male.

While it may feel like doom and gloom, the positive message for both sexes is this: 70% of our health is determined by factors we can control over. Our lifestyle. Even small lifestyle changes make a BIG difference.

So, for those willing to pull their head out of the sand, educate themselves and take a proactive approach to their health – we hope our checklist will help:

  • Know your family health history
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Stay physically active
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Don’t smoke
  • Choose healthier foods
  • Talk to someone if you’re not ok
  • Do regular self-checks
  • Have routine check-ups with your GP

 

Looking for health education packages for your workplace? Contact us for a range of health and wellbeing topics.

 

References: The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

  1. Aged 18+ https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/population-groups/men-women/dataData tables male and female data tables 19 Mar 2019.
  2. Aged 18+. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/risk-factors/risk-factors-to-health/contents/tobacco-smoking. Risk factors to health. 7 August 2017. Time period 2014-15.
  3. Aged 18+ years. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/behaviours-risk-factors/physical-activity/data Data tables: Physical inactivity 19 Jul 2019. Time period 2017-18.
  4. Aged 18+ years. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/behaviours-risk-factors/food-nutrition/data. Data tables: Poor diet 19 July 2019. Time period 2017-18.