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By Senator Mike Crapo

A New Yearâ??s resolution to exercise and eat more fruits and vegetables or the dreaded â??diet resolutionâ?? arenâ??t exactly foremost in our thoughts as we prepare butter and gravy-laden meals and treat ourselves to â??just one more pieceâ?? of chocolate at work. For many, healthy eating from Halloween to New Yearâ??s Eve can be difficult. However, healthy eating and staying active are especially important during the holidays. Men, in particular, need a little extra urging when it comes to practicing preventive healthcare--men are half as likely as women to get regular health checkups. We owe it to ourselves and our families to make a conscious effort to pursue a healthy lifestyle and practice disease prevention.According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 2003, 12 percent more men smoked than women. Also, in the same year, almost 70 percent of men over 20 years old were considered at an unhealthy weight. We choose what to eat and how much exercise to get, and we must educate ourselves about the consequences of those choices. Fortunately, we have a good example of the power of comprehensive gender-specific national public health education; one that I hope can be replicated for men. Sixteen years ago, the Office of Womenâ??s Health was established at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That office serves as a clearinghouse for womenâ??s health initiatives and education. Its success is a sure indicator of the potential for a similar office for men. This is why I have introduced the Menâ??s Health Act, which calls for the establishment of an Office of Menâ??s Health to complement the Office of Womenâ??s Health.Like women, men have gender-specific health concerns. These include prostate cancer and increased risks for a number of other diseases and ailments. And itâ??s no great revelation that men are somewhat reluctant to make regular trips to the doctor without urging from their wives, mothers and other family members. According to the Menâ??s Health Network, about 50 percent of American men did not have a physical exam or blood cholesterol test in the past year. Establishing an Office of Menâ??s Health will encourage menâ??s health education efforts nationwide. Furthermore, raising collective awareness about health issues facing American men will help in the efforts to increase funding for research on prevention and cures. The success of menâ??s health education efforts at local levels can be a model for success at the national level. Idahoans know this firsthand. Over the past six years, my health awareness booths, now at four of Idahoâ??s regional state fairs, have seen increases in the number of men who stop in for various preventive health screenings. The Main Street Mile in Boise, an annual event to raise awareness about the need for regular prostate cancer screenings, has also seen an increase over the past three years in the number of participants. Other local hospitals and organizations have joined in similar efforts with similar success. Getting the word out about menâ??s health works in Idaho and it can work nationwide. As you enjoy your treats and time with family this Christmas season, take time out for your health. Itâ??s the best gift you can give yourself and your loved ones. WORD COUNT: 535