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Men and nutrition

Men also need healthy, balanced diets

Like everyone else, men need good meals so they are healthy and active.

However, men are usually the better nourished members of the family because:

Appendix 2, Table 4, shows that men’s energy needs are higher than women’s needs, especially if they are doing heavy physical work. But men need less iron than women and girls of reproductive age. So they need less iron-rich food (e.g. meat or liver) than women.

Even so, some men are at risk of undernutrition. The reasons may be that:

Men living alone or who are sole caregivers for children may need advice on how to buy good-value foods (see Topic 2, page 27) and how to make good meals (see Topic 3).They may need recipes that are easy to prepare and advice on food hygiene. Men who are HIV+ need counselling on how to eat well and prevent weight loss (see Topic 10, page 85).

An increasing number of men (and women) need advice on how to prevent obesity or how to lose weight (see Box 19, page 94).

Food and care for old people

Eating well helps old people stay healthy and active longer

Old people who eat healthy, balanced diets are likely to stay healthier and active longer. The energy needs of older people are usually less than those of younger people but they need at least the same amounts of protein and micronutrients (see Appendix 2, Table 4).

Old people may have small appetites, so they need nutrient-rich meals

People tend to eat less as they grow older. It is particularly important that old people choose foods that are nutrient-rich so they can get enough nutrients from a smaller amount of food.

Figure 12. Helping old people to eat well

Some old people do not eat enough and so become thin and anaemic because they:

Some old people are overweight or obese also because they are unable to be active.

Old people may be able to eat better and be better nourished if you:


Before sharing this information with families, you may need to:

1. Find out. What and where men eat. Whether any groups of men are at risk of undernutrition. If so, why and what advice they need. What old people eat. Whether many old people are undernourished. If so, why. What advice is needed by old people and their relatives.

2. Prioritize. Decide which information is most important to share with groups or individual families.

3. Decide whom to reach. For example: men and old people; people who cook and care for men and old people.

4. Choose communication methods. For example: discussions, recipes and cooking demonstrations, at community and farmers’ group meetings and at old people’s homes.

Examples of questions to start a discussion
(choose only one or two questions that deal with the information families need most)

Why are most men well fed? Are some men undernourished? If so, why?

What advice do undernourished men or men who are sole caregivers for children need? How can we help them?

Why is it important for old people to eat nutrient-rich foods and have healthy, balanced diets?

Are some of our old people undernourished? If so, why?

How can we improve the diets of old people? How can old people help themselves?

How can we help old people who are caring for many children?

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