Women's health has worsened while men's health has improved, trends since 1990 show

November 21, 2017, Umea University
Trends indicating "worse" or "better" self-rated health 1990-2014. Light purple columns indicate better while dark purple columns indivate worse health among men according to a self-rated comparison with peers. For women the light green column indicate better while the dark green indicate worse. Data from Northern Sweden's MONICA study. Credit: Umeå University/PLOS One

Researchers at Umeå University and Region Norrbotten in Sweden have studied health trends among women and men aged 25-34 from 1990-2014. In 1990, 8.5 percent of women self-rated their health as being worse than peers in their own age group. At 2014, this trend had increased to 20 per cent of women. In contrast, a bigger part of the men self-rated their health as better at the end of the study period compared to the start. This according to a study published in PLOS One.

"In recent years, public debate has raised the issue of increased illness and sick leaves among . Our study now shows, for the first time, that there are corresponding also among ," says Annika Forssén, researcher at the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, general practitioner and co-author of the article.

The researchers behind the study have, through a long-term, population-based survey, analysed answers from 1,811 people in the MONICA study in Northern Sweden. As a part of a standard health check, answered a questionnaire which included questions about self-rated health.

The results also showed that an increased proportion of study participants indicated obesity, anxiety and dissatisfaction with their personal economy, among both women and men. Simultaneously, the proportion of women and men with high levels of physical activity increased over the period.

"A generally worsened self-rated health among young people most likely suggests increased risk of illness both in the short and long term. The results show that gender equality efforts, and especially the promotion of equal rights to health for men and women, need significant revisions," says Göran Waller, researcher at the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, and co-author.

According to the study authors, possible causes for this negative health trend among young women may be:

  • Tougher working conditions in female-dominated professions such as in healthcare
  • Increased risk of burnouts (stress-related exhaustion disorder) and stress of conscience
  • Lack of equality in one's private life
  • Men's violence against women
  • Two conflicting but coinciding norm systems in society - equality and traditional gender roles - where women must fulfil expectation related to both ("manage everything")
  • General societal expectations such as pressures to be both successful, socially active and physically attractive
  • Self-confidence based on achievements and expected patterns of consumption

According to the researchers, some possible reasons for the positive development among men may be:

  • In the labour market, men are still valued more highly than women despite having a lower level of education
  • A more equal responsibility for children and the household is beneficial for men's
  • The equality norm opens up for more variation in the so-called masculine role
  • Lesser ties to rigid masculine norms in the local community through the Internet

Explore further: Link between income inequality and physical activity for women, but not for men

More information: Mattias Waller Lidström et al, Time trends of comparative self-rated health in adults aged 25-34 in the Northern Sweden MONICA study, 1990-2014, PLOS ONE (2017). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187896

Related Stories

Link between income inequality and physical activity for women, but not for men

July 24, 2017
A recent paper published in the Journal of Public Health finds that women from areas with high income inequality are less likely to meet overall physical activity recommendations than men from the same geographical area.

Being heard key for women after gender-based violence

September 13, 2017
(HealthDay)—For women who have experienced gender-based violence, feelings of being listened to and respected are important for defining a positive health care encounter, according to research published online Aug. 22 in ...

TV accentuates traditional women's roles at expense of their needs

May 11, 2017
College women who frequently watch television or who believe that the content is real, tend to endorse the gender roles that are portrayed often on TV, says a University of Michigan researcher.

One in 10 women with a chronic condition turns to acupuncture

March 10, 2017
The ancient remedies of Chinese medicine and acupuncture are important elements of the health care choices made by women of varying ages, new research has shown.

American Muslim women report depression linked to internalized stigma and abuse

May 31, 2017
A new study of Muslim women in the U.S. found a significant association between heightened vigilance, as a measure of internalized stigma, and increased risk for depression. The study, which also examined the link between ...

Recommended for you

Omega 3 supplements have little or no heart or vascular health benefit: review

July 17, 2018
New evidence published today shows there is little or no effect of omega 3 supplements on our risk of experiencing heart disease, stroke or death.

Study shows that people most affected by alcohol also most impacted by sleep deprivation

July 17, 2018
A team of researchers from the German Aerospace Center and Forschungszentrum Jülich has found that people who are most susceptible to alcohol intoxication are also most susceptible to cognitive problems due to sleep deprivation. ...

As we get parched, cognition can easily sputter, dehydration study says

July 17, 2018
Anyone lost in a desert hallucinating mirages knows that extreme dehydration discombobulates the mind. But just two hours of vigorous yard work in the summer sun without drinking fluids could be enough to blunt concentration, ...

Jury still out on probiotics

July 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Probiotics have become a trendy dietary supplement, with more and more people popping bacteria-laden capsules to try to improve their gut health.

Self-control and obesity: Gender matters in children

July 16, 2018
A toddler's self-regulation—the ability to change behavior in different social situations—may predict whether he or she will be obese come kindergarten, but the connection appears to be much different for girls than for ...

1 in 9 U.S. adults over 45 reports memory problems

July 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—If you're middle-aged and you think you're losing your memory, you're not alone, a new U.S. government report shows.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.