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Clinical Resources

Nutritional and lifestyle counselling for men

CAPTION: January 2021

Weight management is one area where the health needs of men differ from that of women. Research shows that men generally have unhealthier diets than women, and that men are less likely to seek advice on healthy eating and weight loss than women. This is partly due to stereotypical gender roles, where slenderness and eating “healthy” foods such as fruits, vegetables and fish are viewed as feminine, while being bigger and consuming hearty foods such as meat and potatoes is viewed as masculine. Thus men can view attempts by health professionals to encourage healthy eating and weight loss as emasculating. It is therefore important to find strategies that avoid this view for many men. Research shows that men tend to respond better to pragmatic, action-orientated plans that focus on what they CAN do and have, rather than on what must be avoided. This may mean focusing on exercising and increasing consumption of certain foods, rather than on restricting calories or specific foods. Men also tend to respond better to goals of improving fitness and strength rather than aiming for weight loss specifically. Shifting the focus of nutritional and lifestyle counselling to suit men’s perceived gender roles may improve their health and wellbeing.

Rowlands S, Gough B. Promoting nutrition in men’s health. InNutrition in lifestyle medicine 2017 (pp. 311-328). Humana Press, Cham. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-43027-0_17

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