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Men’s health behaviours - Clinical opal

21 May 2024 - A/Prof Tim Moss

James is a 19-year-old student who presents for his annual check-up. He has been a regular patient for about 5 years, since his family moved into the area. Your investigations indicate that James is a healthy young adult male.

You decide to use your remaining time to talk to James about his health behaviours.

What are some of the areas you might ask James about, related to his lifestyle and health behaviours?

You explain to James that he’s at an age when he will be building habits that can affect his health throughout his life. You ask him if it’s OK to ask him a few questions about his lifestyle and health behaviours, and he says yes.

Diet & exercise

You ask James to describe what he usually eats. He says he has a lot of fast food, energy drinks and frozen meals because they’re easy and he’s busy. You explain the importance of eating a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, lean protein and whole grains, for brain function, energy and long-term health. You remind James that fresh, unprocessed foods are best that it’s best to drink water, and that these can be cheap or free.

When you ask about activity, James says his only real exercise is walking around the university campus. You recommend to James that he increase his activity, and that he should aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week, and a few episodes of activity to build muscle.

Substance use

James says he doesn't use recreational drugs other than alcohol, and that he “might vape a bit after a few beers”. You explain to James that vaping isn’t safe, and that nicotine from vaping affects the brain as well as being addictive.

You tell James that there’s no safe level of alcohol and that more than 2 or 3 beers on any one day, or more than a 6-pack of beer or 4 cans of premix in a week will have negative effects on his health.

Sleep

James says he’s up late most nights and catches up on sleep on the weekends. You remind James about the importance of good quality sleep, and that regular timing of going to bed and getting up is helpful.

Stress

You ask James how he’s coping with the demands of university, work and socialising, and he says he gets a bit stressed when he’s “got a lot on”. You remind James about the importance of down time, so he can unwind, rest and recuperate. You suggest he keeps an eye on how he’s feeling and that if the stress seems like it’s increasing, or that he’s not coping, he comes back to see you.

Sexual health

You ask James if he is sexually active. He says he isn’t but it is likely he will be soon. You explain to James that sexually transmitted diseases are common in people his age and that using a condom is the best way to protect himself.

You ask James if there’s anything he thinks he can change about his health behaviours, and he says he will make sure he has fresh fruit and veggies so he can snack on those at home and take them with him when he’s out. He says he’ll try carrying a water bottle when he’s out. He says he has a couple of friends who use the gym at university, so he’ll look into joining.

Related courses

Targeting disease burden and risk factors for promotion of men’s health

References

Smith BJ, Moss T, Marshall B, Halim N, Palmer R, von Saldern S., 2023. Engaging Australian men in disease prevention - priorities and opportunities from a national survey. Public Health Res Pract. https://doi.org/10.17061/phrp33342310

Thøgersen‐Ntoumani, C., Gucciardi, D.F., Mcveigh, J.A., O'Sullivan, T.A., Dontje, M., Stamatakis, E., Eastwood, P.R., Straker, L., 2023. Health behaviour profiles in young Australian adults in relation to physical and mental health: The Raine Study. Health Promotion Journal of Australia.. https://doi.org/10.1002/hpja.828

 

A/Prof Tim Moss
A/Prof Tim Moss

Associate Professor Tim Moss BSc PhD is Health Content Manager at Healthy Male and holds an adjunct appointment in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Monash University. He is listed among the top 2% of most influential scientists of all time in the field of obstetrics and reproductive medicine.

Tim joined Healthy Male in 2020 after 25 years of working in academia and medical research. Tim learned science communication at the Alan Alda Centre for Science Communication and the School of Journalism at Stony Brook University, and the SciComm Lab in the Department of Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

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