Are Boomers As Healthy As They Think?

Over and over the media refer to boomers as a health conscious generation, and boomers often assume that their generation is healthier than their parents’ generation.

Now new research, just published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, reaches conclusions that dispute the rosy boomer heath assumptions.

Click this image to watch a video about the NHANES survey.

Click this image to watch a video about the NHANES survey.

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Health Examination  Survey (NHANES – Check out this informational video), researchers compared data from 1988-1994 for our parents’ generation and data from 2007-2010 for the boomers. This means that they were examining health data from similar age groups. The results are dramatic.

Some of the Findings

  • In the older generation, 32% the those surveyed reported excellent health, while only 13.2% of boomers reported excellent health.
  • Obesity was more common in the boomer generation.
  • Regular exercise was less frequent in boomers’ lives.
  • Hypertension was more common in boomers with 43% reporting the condition, but only 36% of their parents reported hypertension at the same age.        

Boomer Health Data

An article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, by Colleen Stoxen, quotes one of the authors of the study, Dana King, M.D., a professor of family medicine at the West Virginia University School of Medicine.

According to Dr. King, “There seems to be somewhat of a disconnect between the reputation of baby boomers for being healthy and what we see in increasing rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.”

There’s much more to learn. Take a look at the graph on the first page of the journal article (thumbnail image at left). Only the first page of the article is available for free, but you can see a larger image of the graph, and below I’ve included four news articles on the research.

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