Young men storing up trouble by behaving badly

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The thought that men may one day be over weight rarely crosses their minds. A new survey from Mintel, exclusive to The Independent, shows that less than a quarter of men in their late teens and early twenties make an effort to stick to a low-fat diet. While almost three in ten women at this age eat little or no red meat, less than one in ten men has taken red meat off the menu.

As well as a penchant for hamburger and chips, young men are more likely than any other group in society to drink heavily, although young women are catching up fast. Eighteen per cent of men in their twenties and early thirties are heavy drinkers, according to Mintel, compared with 8 per cent of women of a similar age.

It is not all about men behaving badly. More than half of men in their late teens and early twenties exercise at least once a week. So, in spite of their diet nearly two-thirds are either about the right weight, or slightly underweight. They may, however, be storing up trouble for later. David Booth, Professor of Psychology and Eating at Birmingham University says: "Premature heart disease is a male issue and heart attacks at 40 are in part a result of what men have laid down through their eating habits during their 20s".

Healthy Lifestyles, published by Mintel, 18-19 Long Lane, London EC1A 9HE; pounds 895.