When we think of Baby Boomers we envision active, healthy individuals that are living life to it’s fullest! But a new study in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) is casting some doubt on that “healthy” notion… Dr. Dana King (University of Virginia School of Medicine) and colleagues analyzed data from 2 separate National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey’s (NHANES) and compared the results with regard to health status, functional and work disability, healthy lifestyle characteristics, and presence of chronic disease. Interestingly, today’s Boomers were found to be less healthy than the previous generation.
Obesity was more common among baby boomers and (surprisingly) today’s boomers don’t seem to be exercising as frequently. These lifestyle related issues can lead to increases in hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes, and were noted to be higher in the Boomer group vs. the prior generation. On a positive note, boomers smoking rates have fallen compared to previous generations and interestingly, boomers are in fact living longer (than previous generations). The authors note that given the trends related to chronic conditions, baby boomers (78 million strong) could have an impact on rising health care costs in the future. They further indicate “a clear need for policies that expand efforts at prevention and healthy lifestyle promotion in the baby boomer generation”.
“The findings from the present study documenting poorer health status and increased rates of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and hypercholesterolemia support an increased likelihood for continued rising health care costs and a need for increased numbers of health professionals as baby boomers age.” — Dr’s King DE, Matheson E, Chirina S, Shankar A, and Broman-Fulks J. 2013. The Status of Baby Boomers’ Health in the United States: The Healthiest Generation? JAMA Internal Medicine
Time to keep a close watch on America’s gyms, vitamin/supplement manufacturers, pharma companies, and weight loss centers… They have a healthy future awaiting them!