Baby Boomers Are Fatter And Lazier Than Their Parents' Generation

Photo: flickr/seattlemunicipalarchives

Our modern world has bred a generation of inactive, fat and sick baby boomers, a new report from the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests, even though modern medicine has made great strides.In general, only 13.2 per cent of baby boomers claim to be in “excellent” health, compared to 32 per cent of their parents’ generation. The authors write:

Despite their longer life expectancy over previous generations, US 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.

Baby boomers are the adults born between 1946 and 1964, about 78 million Americans — they make up about 26 per cent of the population. Their generation was titled the boomers because they were born after the second world war, when there was a huge number of babies born.

The new study analysed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. They looked at two sets of people: Baby boomers who participated in the survey between 2007 to 2010, when they were between 46 and 64, and a slightly older generation, who were between 46 and 64 during the years of 1988 to 1994.

Here’s the results, from the article:

Baby boomers health chartThis chart shows the baby boomer’s health in relation to the health of their parents’ generation.

Photo: King, et. al, JAMA, 2013

40 per cent of the baby boomers were obese, compared with 29 per cent form the older group. Many fewer baby boomers get regular physical activity, too — 52 per cent said they aren’t active, while only 17 per cent to of the older generation could say that.

Nicole Ostrow at Bloomberg talked to experts about the study:

The results are a “wake-up call,” said Susan Reinhard, senior vice president of AARP’s Public Policy Institute in Washington.

“We have to cherish the longevity we’ve been given as a gift,” she said in a telephone interview. “We have to fight to live well not just live long. We’d like to believe that 60 is the new 40, but you can’t be that 40-something if you are just sitting on the couch.”

There was some good news: fewer baby boomers are smokers than in their parents’ generation.

In all, the unhealthy generation could lead to higher costs and a larger burden on the healthcare system, the authors note. “The present study demonstrates a clear need for policies that expand efforts at prevention and healthy lifestyle promotion in the baby boomer generation.”

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