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Live fast, die young ideal takes heavy toll

Men who want to live and long and healthy life should get married and have a job, according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare research.

A study examining the health risks posed arising from the behaviour and lifestyles of men found that, in their first 24 years of life, Australian males were nearly twice as likely to die as females in the same age group.

The research showed that car accidents and suicides were the major killers of males in childhood and the early years of adulthood, and they were also more likely to be hospitalised for injury and more likely to die from injury than females in the same age group.

The Institute found that male babies born between 2009 and 2011 could expect to live, on average, to almost 80 years of age – but this was close to five years less than females born during the same period, and male babies were more likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome, congenital illness and drowning.

Although young men were less likely than females to smoke, they were more likely to drink weekly and 40 per cent of those between 14 and 19 years of age drank to levels that put them at risk of injury.

AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton told the Herald Sun that the glorification of alcohol and its marketing was partly to blame for male health problems.

The health problems of boys and men were not confined to fast cars and heavy drinking – the Institute found that half of all males between 17 and 24 years of age, and 44 per cent of those older than 25 years, were overweight, while 31 per cent in this older age group were obese, and 66 per cent had a waist circumference that put them at an increased risk of chronic disease.

In a finding that showed there was nothing inevitable about these health outcomes, the study found that married men with jobs enjoyed better health than those without either a job or a partner.

The Institute found that the mortality rate among married men was 8.1 deaths per 1000, compared with 12.8 per 1000 among those who had never married, and men who were employed were less likely to rate their health as fair or poor (11 per cent) than unemployed men (37 per cent) or those not in the labour force (41 per cent).

Kirsty Waterford

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