Top five tips

There are many things we can do to improve our health but which five actions will make the biggest difference?

It's not an easy question to answer as it's impossible to do a controlled trial comparing different actions but the Men's Health Forum has decided to focus on five actions.

We're calling on all men to: 

Why these five?

Men are less likely to lead a healthly lifestyle. They are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol to hazardous levels and be overweight or obese. These lifestyles can lead into serious diseases such as cancer, heart diseases and strokes, the risks of which can be reduced by leading a healthy lifestyle.

  • Men are more likely than women to smoke, smoke more cigarettes per day and smoke hand-rolled tobacco. (22% of men reported smoking compared to 17% of women.)
  • Men are more likely than women to drink alcohol and drink at hazardous levels. (14% of men reported drinking an alcoholic drink on five or more days in a week compared to 9% of women.)
  • 67% of men are overweight or obese
  • Men are more likely than women to eat too much salt, red meat and processed meat
  • Men are more likely than women to eat too little fruit and too little vegetables
  • 67% of men reported they met the government recommendations for physical activity
  • Participation in activity amongst men declines with age. (83% of men aged 16-24 met the recommendations for physical activity, compared with 57% aged 65-74.)
What's the result?

One in five men die before the age of 65. That's 20% of men who won't reach retirement age.

  • The biggest single cause of death in men is cancer. Men have 37% higher risk of dying from cancer and a 67% higher chance of dying from cancers that affect both men and women
  • 75% of premature deaths from coronary heart disease are male 

We can say exactly what causes what but maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the biggest single thing we can do to prevent serious diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. 

Men who have unhealthy lifestyles are more likely to:

  • Suffer from mental health issues
  • Be at risk from heart attack
  • Be at risk of two or more health factors
  • Suffer from diabetes, chronic liver disease and cancer

It's expensive too. ASH estimates that the total cost of smoking to society is approximately £12.9 billion a year. Obesity is estimated to cost £27 billion a year.

You can find all these statistics on our webpage for professionals.

Any other advice?
  • Get advice and help as soon as you think there might be a problem - it’s your right, you’re not wasting the health professional’s time
  • Turn up to your NHS Health Check and find out about screening that might be useful to you (although it’s your decision)
  • Support your mates and colleagues with their mental and physical health – always take it seriously.
  • Read our manifesto

The Men’s Health Forum need your support

It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. So we’re asking.

In the UK, one man in five dies before the age of 65. If we had health policies and services that better reflected the needs of the whole population, it might not be like that. But it is. Policies and services and indeed men have been like this for a long time and they don’t change overnight just because we want them to.

It’s true that the UK’s men don’t have it bad compared to some other groups. We’re not asking you to ‘feel sorry’ for men or put them first. We’re talking here about something more complicated, something that falls outside the traditional charity fund-raising model of ‘doing something for those less fortunate than ourselves’. That model raises money but it seldom changes much. We’re talking about changing the way we look at the world. There is nothing inevitable about premature male death. Services accessible to all, a population better informed. These would benefit everyone - rich and poor, young and old, male and female - and that’s what we’re campaigning for.

We’re not asking you to look at images of pity, we’re just asking you to look around at the society you live in, at the men you know and at the families with sons, fathers and grandads missing.

Here’s our fund-raising page - please chip in if you can.