Male healthy eating habits on rise

While women have traditionally been the gatekeepers when it comes to health food shopping, men are increasingly "shopping healthy," according to researcher HealthFocus International. A study conducted in more than 30 countries found fewer men than women are price-sensitive (51 per cent vs 60 per cent, respectively) and men are also less likely to be concerned with label claims such as "lower in sugar," "sugar free," "fresh" or "whole grain."

"In the last two years, men have gotten more involved in familial health," said HealthFocus president Linda Gilbert. "While women continue to generally feel responsible for maintaining healthy families, the statistics show that men are becoming more health-active, not just for themselves but for their families."

In 2002, only 46 per cent of men felt they had control over what their family ate compared to 57 per cent today. Men also are taking more responsibility for their own food choices and 62 per cent of men always or usually choose foods for health reasons. A similar proportion of men always or usually make food choices based on what the whole family will enjoy.

Vanity is also informing male food purchases, with more men making the link between looking healthy and eating healthfully. "While healthy choices are becoming more important to men, it is critical to understand that their motivations are quite different from women's. Men are more motivated by extrinsic benefits (such as looking productive, accomplished and in control), while women are more motivated by intrinsic benefits (such as 'feeling better about myself,')" Gilbert noted.

Men and women are similarly concerned about many health issues including heart disease, cancer, eye health, high cholesterol, arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, Alzheimer's and food allergies. Women, however, are more likely than men to be concerned about lack of energy, stress, being overweight, depression and osteoporosis.

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