Men’s Health: Challenges and Solutions


The health of UK men and boys remains overlooked despite the many problems they face:

  • One quarter of male deaths are before the age of 65
  • Men in the unskilled manual group have a life expectancy at birth of 73 years compared to over 80 for men in the professional group
  • Men are much more likely than women to develop and die from heart disease or cancer
  • Being overweight is overwhelmingly a male problem – 42% men (32% women) are overweight (BMI 25 to less than 30)
  • Male obesity rates (BMI 30+) are projected to rise to 47% (35% female) by 2035
  • Men over 50 are nearly twice as likely as women to have undiagnosed diabetes
  • One third of unskilled men have 3-4 lifestyle risk factors and men generally take more risks with their health than women
  • 33% of men (16% women) drink alcohol at a hazardous level – this includes 6% of men (2% women) estimated to be harmful drinkers, the most serious form of hazardous drinking
  • Men are three times more likely to take their own lives
  • Men are less likely than women to seek help for health problems, whether from a GP, a dentist, pharmacist or via the internet and they are particularly reluctant to have routine check-ups or to take part in screening programmes


While the problems with men’s health are clear, some of the solutions may be less obvious. But we now know enough to identify the steps most likely to improve men’s health outcomes:

  • Improve the health literacy of boys (no young man should leave school without knowing how to make a GP appointment) and vaccinate them against HPV infection to reduce the risk of several cancers in adulthood
  • Men’s access to health services should be improved by extending primary care opening hours, improving appointment booking systems, and providing online consultations
  • Increase men’s uptake of national NHS screening programmes, particularly bowel and chlamydia screening and also Health Checks for 40-74 year olds
  • Exploit new settings for delivering men’s health services and improvement programmes, eg. at sports stadia, workplaces, pubs, clubs and DIY stores
  • Improve men’s participation in smoking cessation, weight management and other lifestyle improvement programmes
  • Develop a wide range of male-targeted health information resources
  • Include men’s health in routine professional training for all health professionals
  • Initiate a sustained men’s health research programme focusing on men’s use of primary care services and how to change men’s behaviours
  • National health policies must embrace men much more comprehensively
  • Local health organisations should collaborate to promote men’s health and ensure it is addressed in local health strategies