Celebrate Men’s National Health Month with Education and Prevention
Health and wellness are important to everyone in our society, no matter their gender, cultural background or socioeconomic status. The month of June, however, is dedicated to bringing awareness to men’s health. Males make up 49 percent of the country’s population, but men are half as likely as their female counterparts to seek out preventative medical care. This staggering behavior partially contributes to a shorter lifespan (up to 5.7 years) and a mortality rate that is 1.6 times greater than females, according to the Men’s Health Network1.
Although recent Census reports estimate men compose just under half of America’s population, men make up 53.3 percent of the workforce and about 85 percent of Fortune 500 executive office positions. Protecting the health of your employees is paramount in continuing the growth of your business, but when males fail to schedule preventative visits and are one-third more likely to have an ambulatory visit due to accidents or violence, it is time to think twice about promoting men’s health in the workplace.
Reluctance to participate in preventative medicine can be reduced by encouraging health screenings or wellness programs in the workplace2. Taking a few minutes out of the business day to focus on employee health removes traditional obstacles or excuses men typically point to in order to avoid treatment. Even simple nutritional guidelines can be lost when an employee does not make the time to visit a doctor or avoids the cost of fitness classes or trainers.
To help educate employees, consider posting recommended caloric and nutritional intake levels in an employee area. As employees see the readily accessible information, they are more likely to reach for an apple instead of punching the worn numbers on the vending machine. Caloric intake depends on gender, as well as age and activity level. The recommended daily intake levels for males are below3.
Age range Sedentary Lifestyle Moderately Active Physically Active
Ages 19 to 30 2,400 to 2,600 2,600 to 2,800 3,000
Ages 31 to 50 2,200 to 2,400 2,400 to 2,600 2,800 to 3,000
Ages 51+ 2,000 to 2,200 2,200 to 2,400 2,400 to 2,800
If your office provides a quarterly employee newsletter or regular email communication with employees, consider including nutrition tips. These can be quick, easy to digest pieces of advice which employees may not have access to unless they regularly visit their doctor or use a personal trainer. For example:
- Protein and fat consumption should make up between 10 percent and 35 percent and between 20 percent and 35 percent, respectively, of daily consumption.
- The Institute of Medicine recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, but males between the ages of 20 and 50 consume well over 4,000 milligrams daily. Past the age of 50, males are still likely to ingest nearly 1,000 milligrams over the recommended daily intake of sodium4.
- The United States Dept. of Agriculture, which compiles the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, recommends similar levels of vitamins A, B6, B12, D and E and calcium for men and women, but higher levels of vitamin C (75 milligrams daily for women compared to 90 milligrams daily for men over the age of 19) and lower levels of iron (just 8 milligrams for men daily compared to 18 daily milligrams for women)5.
The employee communication can be entirely based on statistics or provide brief advice on how to change or modify a diet to match the recommendations. The recommended serving size of protein (i.e. six ounces of grilled, not fried or battered, chicken), snacks to avoid to lower sodium intake or healthy sources of essential nutrients are all simple examples that require little research before sharing with employees.
In addition to different nutritional needs, men have a higher risk for certain diseases and health conditions. In fact, men lead in the top 10 causes of death in America. Besides prostate cancer, which will affect one out of every six men in America today in their lifetimes6, men also are at risk for heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men; 26 percent of the men who died in 2006 suffered from heart disease7. To learn more about the risk factors, diagnosis and how to prevent heart disease with healthy habits, read our American Heart Health Alert.
Although prostate cancer claims the lives of many men in the United States, more men die from lung cancer than any other cancer. This statistic can primarily be linked to cigarette use and smoking contributes to disease in the mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, esophagus and larynx. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the easiest way to lower cancer risk is to quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke. Men also suffer from high rates of skin and colorectal cancer8.
Staying fit and healthy are the most painless ways to avoid long-term health problems. While men are more likely to suffer from injuries and violence, regular exercise and remaining limber, no matter your age, reduces the risk of getting hurt unintentionally. Although usually associated with females, low-impact activities, such as yoga, pilates and even stand-up paddle boarding can be great workouts for males who are looking to achieve or maintain flexibility, while saving joints from pounding the pavement or risking injury on the court.
Between the ages of 15 and 44, women are 56 percent more likely than men to visit a doctor for any reason, not just for preventative care. Encouraging men to become their own health advocates can help change their behaviors and foster a desire to live happier and healthier lives.
Written by Leeann Garms
 Although Harvard Medical School recommends caloric consumption based solely on weight and activity level, the government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a sliding scale based on all three factors. For reference, the average male is estimated to be 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 154 pounds while the reference woman is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 126 pounds.
 http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/PolicyDoc/PolicyDoc.pdf, pgs. 21 to 22
 http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/PolicyDoc/PolicyDoc.pdf, pg. 76