Baby Boomer's Health Worse Than Prior Generations

By Hilda Scott email: , Feb 07, 2013 11:26 AM EST

A new study reports that the 78 million people born in the "baby boomer" years, between 1946 through 1964, are not as healthy as the previous generation. Although the life expectancy of this generation is longer, the results of a study showed mixed health results. During the baby boomer period, the advancements in medicine most likely accounts for the increased life expectancy. When compared to the previous generation, findings indicate that baby boomers suffer from more health complications.

For the study, data was analyzed from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the research results were published Monday in JAMA Interanl Medicine. Individuals between the ages of 43 to 64 were surveyed for the previous generation and the baby boomer generation. The surveys were conducted in 1988-1994 for the previous generation and 2007 through 2010 for the baby boomer generation. A comparison was done between both generations regarding to the health status, functional and work disability, healthy lifestyle characteristics and the presence of chronic disease.

The results found that more baby boomers were obese, at a rate of 39% compared to the previous generation's obesity rate, which was 29%. Baby boomers exercised less frequently. 35% reported exercising more than 12 times a month compared to the previous generation, where the rate was 50%. Also, more than half of them reported no regular physical activity at 52%. The previous generation's rate was just 17%.  

Drinking was higher among baby boomers than the previous generation at 67% vs. 37%, although fewer smokers were reported. 21% the baby boomer generation were smokers and 28% in comparison to 28% from the previous generation.

The percentage of individuals with hypertension was higher at 43% vs. 36% from the previous generation. Hypercholesterolemia or "high cholesterol" was significantly higher among baby boomers at 74%, compared to the low number of just 34% from the previous generation. Diabetes were just slightly more likely to have diabetes, the data reports 16% vs. 12%.

"The baby boomer generation has a reputation of being active and putting off retirement... That did not seem to jibe with what we're seeing in our medical offices," said Dr. Dana King, the study's lead author from West Virginia University School of Medicine.

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