Saturday, September 4, 2010

New York Men Hate Vegetables and Die Earlier

This article ran in New York Magazine recently - it does not look good for men in NYC. Ther study finds an average man in the city should expect to live only 76.3 years, six years less than the average woman - a wider gap than the national average (5 years in 2008). It's much worse if you are a black man:
The difference between poor black men and affluent white women was more than 14 years (66.9 years vs. 81.1 years). (2000 numbers, as cited in the New York Times, 2008)
Here is the brief report from New York Magazine:

Men Hate Vegetables and Die Earlier

  • 8/26/10 at 12:55 PM
  • The young and the dead.

    The young and the dead.Photo: New York City Health Department

    A new New York City Health Department study reports that an average man in the city should expect to live only 76.3 years, six years less than the average woman. The grim details prove that your angry gym teacher was right and you should have gotten a sex change. Younger men (18 to 34) are more than three times more likely to die in a drug overdose, while older men (35 to 64) are twice as likely to die of heart disease. The gender gap in the city is slightly wider than national averages.

    Issues like geography (the rate of heart disease in Williamsburg/Bushwick is ten times higher than in Upper East Side), race (African-Americans are twelve times more likely to die in homicides than whites), and lack of health insurance don't explain it. But vegetables do, especially if you squint: Only 7 percent of men eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, while a full 11 percent of women do.

    The lesson: Be more like a woman and eat carrots.

    New Report Details Men’s Health in New York City, Highlights Potential for Improvement []

Here is a more in-depth look at this issue, from the report itself. A lot of this information, including the ways to close the gap, are useful to all men.

In New York City, men are 65% more likely than women to die between the ages of 35 and 64, mainly because of their higher death rates due to heart disease. More than 1 million of the 1.5 million men in this age group are either overweight (46%) or obese (25%) – conditions that increase the risk of heart disease. In addition, the vast majority (93%) report eating fewer than the recommended five servings of fruits or vegetables each day, and one in six report smoking (18%). Many men also face barriers to receiving preventive health care, as 24% are either uninsured or insured but lacking a regular medical provider. Only 18% of women face these barriers.

The gender gap is just as striking in younger adults. The report shows that men aged 18 to 34 die at more than twice the rate of women in New York City. Homicide has declined markedly in New York over the past two decades, yet it remains the leading cause of death in this group – claiming the lives of about 260 younger men each year in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In most of these cases, young men were the perpetrators as well as the victims, suggesting that violence prevention efforts should focus on this group.

The factors contributing to men's excess mortality vary widely by neighborhood. Among 35- to 64-year-old men, the highest rates of preventable hospitalization for heart disease occur in Brooklyn's Williamsburg and Bushwick neighborhoods, along with the Crotona, Tremont, Highbridge and Morrisania sections of the Bronx. Violent death follows a similar pattern. For men aged 18 to 34, the study found the highest homicide rates in the Bronx neighborhoods of Hunts Point and Mott Haven and the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights and East New York. Young men were also more likely to be hospitalized for non-fatal assault in these areas, where more than 30% of residents live in poverty. Poverty affects health through many channels, increasing stress and limiting people's access to health care, economic opportunities and good nutrition.

Improving men's health and longevity will require determined effort, both by individuals and by communities. Here are some of the steps the report recommends:

  • Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days. Take the stairs, bicycle to work, or exit the subway a stop early and walk the rest of the way.

  • Make small, healthy changes to your diet: eat more fruits and vegetables, choose low-sodium foods, and substitute water or seltzer for sugar-sweetened beverages.

  • Limit alcohol use. Drinking more than two drinks per day increases men's risk of heart disease, violence, injury, and other health problems.

  • If you smoke, quit. If you have trouble quitting, speak to your medical provider about options.

  • Call 311 for more information on alcohol problems, quitting smoking, or finding a doctor.

  • Adult men should get screened for high blood pressure at least every two years and men 35 and older for cholesterol at least every five years. Equally important, they should take medication daily if a health care provider recommends it.

  • Community groups can engage young men and boys, especially those in neighborhoods with high rates of homicide or assault, in activities that promote non-violence and well-being.

  • Health care professionals can work with all patients, particularly men, to discourage smoking and promote physical activity and healthy eating.

  • Health care providers should also closely monitor men's risk factors for cardiovascular disease, screening them regularly for high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, and recommending preventive measures as needed. Electronic health records can help track blood pressure and cholesterol and generate preventive care reminders for all patients. For more information, providers can visit

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