As each generation gets older they like to think that they are healthier than the previous generation, however, the baby boomers are now unable to confidently make this claim.
The new findings were published in JAMA Internal Medicine, in a study conducted by a group of researchers from the West Virginia University School of Medicine.
The study revealed that a portion of the baby boomer generation, specifically the 78 million Americans who were born in the post-war baby boom from 1946 to 1964, were less healthy than most of their parents.
As of 2010, the baby boomers made up 26.1 percent of the U.S. population. Historically, the baby boomer population has been labeled the "healthiest generation", due to their long life expectancy and their ability to take advantage of the newest medical care and public health campaigns.
However this label may no longer apply because studies are now showing that baby boomers have more elevated levels of certain conditions than the previous generation, including:
Researchers led by Dr. Dana King, a professor in family medicine at West Virginia University School of Medicine, examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). NHANES is a picture of health measures and behaviors administered by the U.S. government.
The investigators analyzed baby boomers aged 46 to 64 years between 2007 and 2010, as well as Americans with similar ages in 1988 to 1994.
Baby Boomers, The Sickest Generation
In total, just 13 percent of baby boomers gaged their health as "excellent", while close to three times as many - 32 percent of those in the preceding generation - rated themselves in excellent health.
Key findings the authors pointed out:
7 percent of baby boomers used a cane or other device to help them walk, compared to 3 percent in the previous generation.
13 percent of baby boomers have a type of limitation in their ability to complete daily tasks - like going up steps or mowing the lawn - compared with 8.8 percent of those in the previous generation.
The authors noted:
"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. On a positive note, baby boomers are less likely to smoke cigarettes and experience lower rates of emphysema and myocardial infarction than the previous generation."
An example of this is hypertension, and the potential cardiovascular damage that can come from the condition. The report stated that 35 percent of the previous generation had high blood pressure, while 75 percent of baby boomers do.
Public health campaigns and better therapies also appear not to be achieving their goals in improving disease rates. One possible cause of this may be obesity. The U.S. population is more obese than ever before, which can result in harmful medical complications.
King suggests that the gap between what we perceive to be the "longest lived" and the reality of the harm obesity is having on their health is significant and should be quantified.
King concludes, "Medication use has definitely increased, so we are propping ourselves up on our canes and our medicines. We are becoming over dependent on medications and surgical solutions rather than creating our own good health."
Written by Kelly Fitzgerald
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today
My 92 year old mother is healthier than I am at 70 years old. I fit the description of someone with hypertension, diabetes and 4 months ago I had a mild stroke. Oddly my generation emphasized organic foods, yoga, and all kinds of stuff to promote well-being starting back in the 60's but look where we ended up. What did we do wrong? Now we take too many medicines and we worry constantly. It's tough on our offspring who are having to look after us while struggling to keep their own lives intact. Is this our legacy? It makes me sad.
biggest lifestyle change is food - more prepared foods now, with more salt, sugar, and chemicals
posted by bfuruta on 5 Feb 2013 at 12:22 pm
I think food is the biggest difference between boomers and their parents regarding what contributes to poor health. We eat more prepared foods now, with more salt, sugar, and chemicals. Maybe the worst ingredient is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). According to the USDA Economic Research Service, our per capita DAILY consumption of HFCS was 0.1 teaspoons in 1970, was 13.4 teaspoons in 1999, and 10.4 teaspoons in 2010.
The media has been covering the argument that sugar is not just empty calories, it is toxic in the quantities we eat it, because of the way it is metabolized. Just do a search for ‘sugar toxicity’ and you will find all kinds on information.
Has anyone considered that, at least in part, the increase in chronic health conditions is occuring BECAUSE people are living longer? If you don't die from "myocardial infarctions" (heart attacks, for those of us with no one to impress), then there is more chance (time) for you to live long enough for arthritis or joint wear to develop and cause problems with mobility.
I would hardly say that living with the chronic conditions mentioned, which are generally treatable with medication, diet or supportive products, is less desirable than dying younger from a heart attack!
Me, I will live "less healthily" for longer any day!
Increased incidence, or lowered diagnostic thresholds?
posted by Les Witherspoon on 5 Feb 2013 at 11:42 am
I suggest you see this article, from the time frame of the original survey (1988-1994) which addressed the effect of changing diagnostic criteria of diabetes, hypertension, etc. upon its incidence in the US populace.
It's possible that there is no increased incidence for many of these illnesses (with the possible exception of obesity), but merely increased diagnosis due to lowered threshold criteria.
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