Friday, July 2, 2010

The Typical Ukrainian Man's Life

(I'll start out this blog with a depressing but accurate post on the health of Ukrainian men.)

It seems that 90% of Ukrainian men follow this scenario:

0-25 years: slim or skinny; by 25 a majority of Ukrainian men have picked up a smoking habit that will shorten their lifespan by several years

25 years: this is when Ukrainian men start to put on weight

30 years: this is the age when their gut has become clearly visible

35 years: this is the age when they realize they have gotten fat

60 years: this is the average life expectancy of a Ukrainian man

Men's health in Ukraine

After having learned quite a bit about healthy living and nutrition, I can say that the lifestyle of the average Ukrainian man is truly dreadful.

Two-thirds of adult men smoke -- one of the highest rates in the world and substantially more than a decade ago. Cigarette smoke plagues almost all public spaces.

Ukrainians typically eat a high-starch diet (noodles, potatoes, refined flour, rolls, etc.) with plenty of sugar, fried food, and saturated fats that often stimulates overeating and leads to diabetes in the absence of rigorous physical exercise. Add to that substantial alcohol consumption, smoking, and fairly high levels of stress.

Judging by my observations at the supermarket, one quarter of all food purchased is basically "party food" for get-togethers with friends: processed meats, cakes and other sweets, alcohol, etc. 

Most Ukrainian men don't make much effort to be physically active after university and quickly adopt a sedentary lifestyle. Among men who drive cars, slimness and fitness is almost nonexistent. Most Ukrainian men want cars for the status they afford.

This is the predominant cultural tradition. To remain fit after 25, a Ukrainian man must go against the flow and ignore peer pressure. Few do.

UPDATE 2016:

I'm pleased to report that health and fitness trends have made it to Ukraine. There are a lot of very fit young and middle-aged Ukrainians, men and women alike. Above a certain average socioeconomic level, it seems that everyone goes to the gym or tries to engage in some sort of physical activity. This is very nice to see!


  1. Make it's so easy to take their women away from them :)

  2. I think although the post is fair to a degree, it still over-exaggerates and over-simplifies the Ukrainian lifestyle and attitudes to life. For instance, the life expectancy of 62 years for Ukrainian men does not imply that Ukrainian men actually do not live up to their pension, but it simply takes account of the higher youth mortality rates.

    In terms of alcohol consumption I believe Ukraine lags far behind the UK or Russia, or even Poland. I have never seen so dead drunk youngsters so many times in Ukraine as I have seen them in the UK.

    Ukrainian men are not very obese either, although it is true that they tend to exercise less after 25. However, as a general observation Americans tend to be more obese.

    As a bottom-line, the article does not provide a balanced view portraying Ukrainian men as suicides killing themselves slowly with junk food, vodka and smoking.

  3. Anonymous, one strong trend I have noticed since this post was written two years ago is that more and more Ukrainian men in cities are working out and getting muscular. Attendance at outdoor gyms seems higher than ever. However, I've also spent some time recently in rural areas in different parts of Ukraine and have been surprised at just how strong the overall trend towards obesity, overeating, high-starch diets, smoking, and drinking is. The level of health of the average Ukrainian man is, unfortunately, quite low for his age, and life expectancy is rising slowly if at all.