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Men Chose Chicken and Meat; Women Opt for Fruits and Veggies, Survey Shows

March 19, 2008 -- Vive le difference: when it comes to eating, men and women seem to prefer different foods.

A new telephone survey of thousands of Americans shows that men are more likely to eat meat and chicken, and women are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables.

Researchers talked to 14,660 American adults from May 2006 to April 2007. Of the total number of respondents, 5,595 were men and 9,065 women.

In the survey, men were more likely to be meat and poultry eaters, enjoying chicken, duck, veal, and ham. They also were more likely than women to eat shrimp and oysters.

Women had a greater likelihood to eat vegetables, especially carrots and tomatoes, and fruits such as strawberries and raspberries. They were also more likely to eat almonds and walnuts.

There were some exceptions. Men were significantly more likely than women to eat asparagus and brussels sprouts. Women were more likely to nibble fresh hamburger, while men preferred frozen.

(Do you eat differently than your mate? Compare and tell us what the differences are and what you would like to change about his or her eating habits on WebMD's Healthy Cooking: Elaine Magee, RD, message board.)

High-Risk Foods

When it comes to eating foods that are high risk for food poisoning, women surveyed were more likely to consume alfalfa sprouts, and men more often opted for runny eggs and undercooked hamburger. No other significant gender differences were noticed when it came to eating the risky foods. Researchers looked at six foods considered high risk for food-borne illness:

  • Pink hamburger
  • Raw oysters
  • Unpasteurized milk
  • Cheese made from unpasteurized milk
  • Runny eggs
  • Alfalfa sprouts

Study authors say they hope the findings will help health educators come up with quick solutions during outbreaks of food-borne illness.

"The reason we looked at consumption and risky behaviors was to see if there was a statistically significant difference between men and women. And if there is, this information could be used by health educators to target interventions," said researcher Beletshachew Shiferaw in a news release.

Shiferaw added "there was such a variety of data, we thought it would be interesting to see whether there were any gender differences. To our knowledge, there have been studies in the literature on gender differences in eating habits, but nothing this extensive."

The research was conducted by the Food Disease Active Surveillance Network. The findings were presented at the 2008 International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.

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