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European men need targeted health policies

Wednesday November 30th, 2011

A radical new approach to health policy, research and practice is needed to improve men's health in Europe, experts say today.

Men are still more likely than women to die from most of the leading causes, and in the EU men have more than twice as many deaths a year as women throughout the working ages, write Professor Alan White and colleagues from Leeds Metropolitan University, UK, on the website of the British Medical Journal today (November 30).

"This high level of premature mortality in men has psychological, social, and economic consequences for relatives, households, communities, and the workplace," they explain.

Both national and European health policy has limited the development of evidence based programmes that meet men's health needs, because the differences in mortality and illness are "not simply the result of biological factors; nor are they intractable".

The authors warn that traditional masculine attitudes are associated with unhealthy behaviours such as poor diet, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, non-use or delayed uptake of health services, and higher likelihood of injury.

A recent European Commission report, The State of Men's Health in Europe, shows how men suffer from avoidable premature deaths, and illustrates the strong influence of social class.

The experts call for an increased focus on boys' and men's health within primary and secondary school curriculums, better collaboration between employers and unions to promote men's health in the workplace, and policies that target marginalised groups of men.

Dr Gregory Malcher a GP from Australia, writes in an editorial that: "Men's health in Europe has far to go: the challenges are immense but the potential benefits, both socially and economically, are compelling."

Europe's men need their own health strategy. White, A. et al. The British Medical Journal November 30 2011;343:d7397 doi: 10.1136/bmj.d7397

Tags: Australia | Europe | Menís Health | UK News

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