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How do we get Australian men to be healthier?

By Peter West - posted Monday, 7 August 2017


And Jim's local chemist can be helpful, if he's not too busy flogging body-building products, perfumes and other stuff.

Last, some useful information must be important. And that brings us back to the media.

A wish list

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So here's my own list of what could be done.

First, we will have to spend time and money pressuring the mainstream media to do more for men's health. Perhaps this might be near the top of the agenda, as people regularly watch TV and do listen to radio. 'Dr Google' is very much used by guys wanting to know what could be wrong. Sadly, he/she isn't terribly reliable.

Second, some solid research could be done on how men think about their health. How do we get them to realise that without good health, most of their lives get spent 'catching up' ? Some action research might be tried, testing some innovative approaches to better health. Men's sheds show us that we can reach ordinary guys, if only we know how to do it.

Third, how do we educate health professionals to better listen to men? Many of us know that men listen in ways characteristically different from women. Men talk shoulder-to-shoulder more easily than in any face-to-face situation, especially if it feels like confrontation.

Fourth, what should we do to improve men's lives in their sixties and seventies, now men seem to be living longer - if they can survive the perils noted above? That might involve a hard look at nursing homes: not a happy place for most men to spend their last years, from what we hear from the ABC and Fairfax Media.

Fifth, surely it's in most people's interest to get food labelled in a simple and accurate way so that better eating choices can be made by consumers.

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Sixth, we will have to work a lot harder to get kids exercising. Boys who are stuck on electronic devices turn into inactive men. Yet backyards are disappearing in Sydney and Melbourne, and more and more live in apartments. We'll have to find places for people to exercise and make it easier and cheaper for them.

All in all, there's much work to be done. But we will have to make a start.

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About the Author

Dr Peter West is a well-known social commentator and an expert on men's and boys' issues. He is the author of Fathers, Sons and Lovers: Men Talk about Their Lives from the 1930s to Today (Finch,1996). He works part-time in the Faculty of Education, Australian Catholic University, Sydney.

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