"she'll be right" wrong when it comes to queensland men's health beliefs


Nearly half of Queensland’s adult men are unhappy with their bodies, a new study has found.

Research, undertaken by the Queensland Government-funded lifestyle program My health for life, also revealed that one in four men frequently feel anxious or depressed.

Despite this, program director Lyn Hamill said 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 is 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 on 18 June 2019. Ms Hamill said she had been keen to share the results as they had implications not only for men, but for health and support services.

An underlying theme, she said, 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.)
  • Two in five men say they do not like to make a “fuss” about their health, citing costs or the belief they are already in good shape. 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 important to recognise this exercise is not about shaming or blaming,’’ Ms Hamill said.

“It is actually an opportunity to gain insight into what Queensland men really think.

“For programs and support services like ours, the health sector, not-for-profits, policy makers and any organisation with a vested interest in a healthier Queensland, it’s a red flag that we can do better in engaging men to live healthier lives.

“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 and, ultimately, it is an important wake up call to men themselves that they must act before it is too late, ‘’ she said.

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