Men’s Health Statistics
Lets face it guys. When it comes to health we really drew the short straw.
Right from the word ‘go’ we are disadvantaged. From our own Ministry of Health’s statistics, life expectancy at birth for ladies is 83.2 years and for men only 78.4 years. Women have a good 5 years advantage over us based purely on their gender. ‘But wait a minute’ you might say, ‘women are always so sickly so even if they live longer they are actually more unhealthy.’ Sorry boys. That’s also not true. According to the statistics for Health Adjusted Life Years (i.e. Life Expectancy after you take out all the sick years), ladies weigh in at 73.7 years and for men a measly 70.4 years.
The 2004 National Health Survey also found that men are more likely to get Diabetes, High blood Pressure and High Cholesterol. So compared to ladies, we are more likely to get chronic diseases and die younger.
It’s tough luck being born a guy. But in reality we are not helping ourselves either. Let’s just admit it, we don’t like to see doctors. And I’m not just saying that. There is actually scientific proof.
A Statistics Singapore Newsletter stated that women are more likely to seek care during the initial stages of a health disorder and more females would visit a doctor for minor illnesses. Women are also more likely to go for health screening. A study of the Ministry of Health’s Statistics for Hospital Admission rates show a significantly higher number of women getting admitted to hospital between the ages of 25 to 39. This trend however is reversed from age 50 onwards. Although it might be a bit of a leap but we can possibly conclude that men just refuse to see doctors when we are young and things are minor but end up spending more time in hospital when we are older and diseases have gotten more serious.
Women are also found to make healthier food choices than men. Fewer men remove visible fat and skin from their meat, eat wholemeal bread, drink low fat milk and eat the daily recommended portions of fruits and vegetables.
More men smoke and also men tend to smoke more cigarettes per day than women. More men quote addiction as a reason for smoking while more women say they smoke to feel relaxed or to relieve stress. Well, at least we are honest.
More men drink alcohol and men are far more likely to binge drink than women. This will come as no surprise but men prefer beer and most women prefer wine.
Statistics show that more women brush their teeth twice a day and make regular visits to the dentist. Guys, we can’t even bother to brush our teeth everyday! That really takes the cake.
Had enough? I’m afraid there’s still more. Not only do us men do all the above to put our health at risk, we actually take more direct steps to jeopardize ourselves. In 2009, there were 267 male suicides compared to 134 female suicides. A closer look at the statistics show that the number of male suicides in Singapore has been consistently higher than females since 1960!
As if that is not enough, we seem to get ourselves killed on the road more too. A study of Fatal Road Traffic Accidents in Singapore found that in 2004, men made up 82.8% of total Road Traffic Accident fatalities.
The Singapore Ministry of Health’s statistics on HIV also showed that 90% of people found to be infected with HIV in Singapore are men. And since the majority of infections are due to sexual transmission, it says a lot about our risk seeking behavior.
But fret not! There are actually 2 things going for us. One, we exercise more. The National Health Survey found that 28.8% of men engage in regular exercise and 41.4% are physically inactive. This compared to only 21% of women who do regular exercise and 54.8% who are physically inactive. Perhaps this is because most of us do not want to end up in Maju Camp doing RT twice a week. But whatever the reason, we are exercising more than the women and that is a good thing.
The second thing we have going for us is that we are on the whole slimmer than the women. Yes, you heard me right, Slimmer. Only 6.4% of men were found to be obese compared to 7.3% of women. Not only that, only 3% of men were found to have excessive abdominal fat as compared to 20.7% of women! Yes boys, we are a bunch of svelte looking guys with flat tummies.
But seriously, the fact remains men on the whole tend to focus less on health preservation and disease prevention and early detection than women. Whatever the reason might be, career, having to entertain or just plain lazy, it is imperative that men start to take charge of their own health from an early stage.
- Statistics Singapore Newsletter March 2009. Personal Health Practices; Different Patterns in Males and Females. Ms Lily Chua Ai Vee.
- Singapore Ministry of Health 2008 Health Statistics.
- Singapore Ministry of Health HIV Statistics.
- World Health Organisation Singapore Suicide Rates 2006.
- Singapore Registry of Birth and Deaths. Suicide statistics 2009.
- A Review of Fatal Road Traffic Accidents in Singapore. Annals of the Academy of Medicine Singapore 2009; 38:594-9
- Singapore National Health Survey 2004
- Singapore Ministry of Health. Healthcare Institution Statistics. Hospital Admission Rates by Age and Sex 2007.
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About Dr. Tan
Dr. Tan graduated from the National University of Singapore in 2001. His residency was in the two largest public hospitals in Singapore; Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Singapore General Hospital.
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