It’s official. Baby boomers (individuals born during the post WWII boom between 1946-1964) are less healthy than their parent’s generation and face more health problems despite being blessed with a longer average lifespan.
"Despite their longer life expectancy over previous generations, U.S. baby boomers have higher rates of chronic disease, more disability, and lower self-rated health than members of the previous generation at the same age," stated Dana King, MD, of West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia.
The data emerged after an analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (HHANES) controlled for factors such as race and socioeconomics. The study found a 46% increase in diabetes, 38% increase in hypertension and an almost 6 fold increase in hypercholesterolemia. Disability levels were also shown to have increased with more individuals requiring walking devices and reporting work limitations.
Not surprising obesity was significantly more common among baby boomers (39% vs 29%). Cancer rates remained relatively the same with small advances in emphysema and heart attack rates.
The prior generation also engaged in more regular exercise with 50% vs 35% of the boomers engaging in exercise more than 12x per month.
"Given the link between positive healthy lifestyles and subsequent health in this age group, the present study demonstrates a clear need for policies that expand efforts at prevention and healthy lifestyle promotion in the baby boomer generation," the researchers noted. “That is critical advice for our entire population,” stated Steve Bordley, CEO of TrekDesk Treadmill Desk. “We have to start immediately to reverse the ill effects of our sedentary lifestyles if not for ourselves for our children’s sake. It is already expected that the children of baby boomers will represent a generation with a lower life expectancy of that of their parents.”
Despite landmark advances in medicine American adults continue to spiral in a downward health trend and though living longer are less healthy as they age. The common denominator appears to be the decreasing levels of physical activity brought on by the ever increasingly sedentary nature of work and leisure hours.
Americans need to understand that their health is critically dependent on their individual choice to remain active each and every day.