Researchers at Umea University and Region Norrbotten in Sweden showed that 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.
"In recent years, public debate has raised the issue of increased illness and sick leaves among women. Our study now shows, for the first time, that there are corresponding health trends also among young women," said co-author Annika Forssen.
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, study participants 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," said co-author Goran Waller.
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
- A more equal responsibility for children and the household is beneficial for men's health
- 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
The study is published in PLOS One. (ANI)