We didn’t need a study to tell us that we’re not eating enough vegetables. However, understanding why people aren’t eating square meals may be a good place to start.
Body-conscious young men, in particular, can’t seem to stomach the green stuff.
A new study reveals that British men aged 18-24 are less concerned with eating a “five-a-day” balanced diet — and more concerned with chiseling their muscular physiques at the gym.
“In England, about half of men eat less than three portions of fruit and veg a day, and young men aged 18-24 eat the least,” said Dr. Stephanie Howard Wilsher of the University of East Anglia in Norwich.
She says this lack of awareness about nutrition’s intrinsic link to physical fitness is “worrying,” because dudes are “more likely than women” to develop heart disease and other related health concerns.
Researchers asked a modest survey group of 34 men of average weights to keep a food diary for four days. Based on those reports, the participants were divided into two groups. Those who ate four or more portions of produce a day were considered “high consumers,” while those who managed less than three servings were dubbed “low consumers.”
“We found that the young men with the best diets really believed in their ability to afford, shop for, prepare and cook fruit and vegetables,” said Wilsher, whose study appears in the journal Nutrients. “For example, they found that cooking and eating healthy food gave them enjoyment, satisfaction and better mood.”
Both consumer categories agreed that fruits and vegetables are beneficial to health, but “were [not] aware that eating fruit and vegetables could lower the risk of developing chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease,” said Wilsher. She suggests this lack of understanding is a result of a “live for today attitude” held by many of the men.
In fact, it’s not just a problem of their laissez-faire approach to nutrition, but a “mistrust of health information” among low consumers, Wilsher noted.
The young gentlemen simply felt the world ought to revolve more around their needs and perceptions.
“They thought that diet and health promotions should be better designed around their interests — such as sex, exercise and sports, with real examples of male health and fitness,” added Wilsher.
She hopes this study will urge legislators and health agencies to find “different approaches to engage young men with health messages and improve their dietary choices.”