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Original Research

Riverina menís study: a preliminary exploration of the diet, alcohol use and physical activity behaviours and attitudes of rural men in two Australian New South Wales electorates

Submitted: 26 August 2007
Revised: 18 December 2007
Published: 15 February 2008

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Author(s) : O'Kane GM, Craig P, Black D, Sutherland D.

Gabrielle O'KanePippa CraigDeborah BlackDavid Sutherland

Citation: O'Kane GM, Craig P, Black D, Sutherland D.  Riverina menís study: a preliminary exploration of the diet, alcohol use and physical activity behaviours and attitudes of rural men in two Australian New South Wales electorates. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2008; 8: 851. Available: (Accessed 22 October 2017)


Introduction:††Discourses around menís health refer to greater risk-taking behaviour, the social construct of masculinity and differences between menís and womenís rates of death and disease. These ways of describing Ďmenís healthí may be inadequate, but many men, particularly rural men, experience health disadvantage.
Method:††A written postal survey was used to collect demographic data, eating behaviours using the Food Habit Score, alcohol use, physical activity behaviours using an adaptation of the Pilot Study of the Fitness of Australians and attitudes to health and body image. Subjects and Setting: The survey was sent to 2000 randomly selected men in two New South Wales Riverina federal electorates in June 2004, with 529†returns (27% response). Main outcome measures: Food Habit Scores; regularity of physical activity; frequency and amount of alcohol use; degree of agreement with statements about attitudes to health and body image. Statistical analyses: Descriptive statistics using frequencies and cross tabulations were performed with further univariate analyses conducted at a level of significance of 5%.
Results:††Approximately one-third of the men achieved a poor Food Habit Score (≤10 out of 20). Age was not significantly associated with diet quality, but those in higher skilled occupations had a better diet, compared with those in less skilled occupations (p<0.01). Eighty-seven percent of the respondents drank alcohol and of those, almost half consumed only one or two alcoholic drinks at each session. Nearly a quarter of the men reported that they had more than four drinks on each drinking occasion. Almost half the men did no Ďvigorousí exercise, but 42% did heavy labouring/gardening at least three times a week. The men with poor dietary habits were more likely to agree with less desirable attitudes to health, such as needing a health scare before changing lifestyle behaviours (p<0.001). The low response rate (27%) limits the ability to generalise these results to the whole male population in the Farrer and Riverina federal electorates.
Conclusion:††This study describes the eating and physical activity behaviours of a sample of rural men and highlights the attitudes that are associated with poor lifestyle behaviours among this hard to reach group. Implications: Health promotion programs targeting men, especially rural men, should address existing attitudes to health which may impact on lifestyle behaviours.

Key words:††Australia, attitudes, food habits, health beliefs, menís health, physical activity, rural men.

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