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Diet key data

Compiled by Men’s Health Forum, March 2013

Men generally eat a poorer diet than women and are less knowledgeable about healthy foods.

25% of men and 27% of women consumed the recommended five or more portions of fruit and vegetables daily in England in 2010. Consumption varied with age among both sexes, being lowest among those aged 16-24 (19% of men and 21% of women this age ate five or more portions) (Reference: Information Centre).

Higher consumption was also associated with higher income: 32% of men and 37% of women in the highest income quintile consumed five or more portions in 2009, but only 18% of men and 19% of women in the lowest quintile had done so (Reference: Information Centre).

A higher proportion of women (78%) than men (62%) were aware that five portions of fruit and vegetables should be consumed per day (Reference: Information Centre).

In England in 2011, the mean estimated salt intake (derived from urinary sodium excretion) for adults aged 19 to 64 years was 8.1g per day, with men having a mean estimated intake of 9.3g per day and women having a mean estimated intake of 6.8g per day. Overall, 80% of men and 58% of women exceeded the recommended maximum of no more than 6g per day (Reference: Department of Health).

According to the World Cancer Research Fund, men in the UK are less aware than women that eating processed meat such as bacon and ham increases the risk of cancer and they eat twice as much as women (Reference: WCRF). WCRF has found that 36 per cent of men know about the link between processed meat and bowel cancer, while for women the figure is 41 per cent. Men eat an average of nearly 50g of processed meat a day compared to 24g for women.


Men are more likely than women to be overweight (BMI 25+).

The Health Survey for England (2009-11 average data) shows that 32.2% of adult men had a healthy weight (BMI 18.5 to <25) compared to 40.2% of women (Reference: National Obesity Observation).

66.2% of men were overweight or obese (BMI 25+) – 42.2% were overweight (BMI 25 to <30) and 24.0% were obese (BMI 30+). 57.6% of women were overweight or obese – 32.3% were overweight and 25.3% were obese (Reference: National Obesity Observation).

The highest rates of male obesity were in in the 45-74 age group, where one-third of men had a BMI of 30+ (Reference: National Obesity Observation).

Data for England for 2006-10 shows that male obesity was highest in the Black Caribbean group (20.9% obese) and lowest in the Bangladeshi group (11.5%). 18.8% of the white male population was obese (Reference: National Obesity Observation). There is no clear relationship between income and obesity levels in men (Reference: Information Centre).

It has been predicted that obesity levels will rise significantly in men over the next 40 years. The extrapolation of current trends indicates that, by 2015, 36% of males will be obese. By 2025, this figure is estimated to rise to 47%. By 2050, 60% of males could be obese. The proportion of men having a healthy BMI (18.5–25) will decline to less than 10% by 2050 (Reference: Foresight).


Men are more likely than women to be affected by Type 2 diabetes.

In England in 2011, 7.0% of men and 4.9% of women aged 16 and over had doctor-diagnosed diabetes (Reference: Information Centre).

Diagnosed diabetes was highest among those with the lowest household income. 11.0% of men and 5.9% of women in the lowest quintile of equivalised household income had diabetes, compared with 4.7% of men and 3.7% of women in the highest quintile.

There are some marked differences between the prevalence of diabetes in men and women from different ethnic groups. Black African and Indian men are much more likely than women from those groups to have been diagnosed (Reference: Diabetes UK).

Men over 50 are nearly twice as likely to have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes than their female counterparts (Reference: Diabetes UK). A nationally representative study of 6,739 52- to 79-year-olds found 502 to have diabetes. Of the men with diabetes, 22 per cent did not realise they had the condition before the study, compared to 12 per cent of the women.

Page created on August 5th, 2013

Page updated on August 12th, 2013