Sure, baby boomers are living longer than previous generations, but that doesn’t mean they are any healthier.
Despite having a reputation of being the healthiest and most active generation, baby boomers are actually in worse overall health than their parents were, new research finds.
Baby boomers have increased rates of hypertension, diabetes and disability, and higher cholesterol levels than their parents, according to researchers at the West Virginia University School of Medicine. The findings are based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.
Researchers compared people 46 to 64 between 2007 and 2010 with people in the same age range between 1988 and 1994. There are roughly 75 million baby boomers, the largest group of consumers in the nation.
Boomers were more likely to be obese (39 percent vs. 29 percent) and suffer from diabetes (16 percent vs. 12 percent) and high cholesterol (74 percent vs. 34 percent).
Poor health habits appear to be the main reason why.
Regular exercise was significantly less frequent in boomers (35 percent vs. 50 percent), while more than half of them admitted to getting no exercise at all (compared to 17 percent of the older group). And moderate drinking was higher in the boomer population compared with previous generations (67 percent vs. 37 percent), research found.
In addition, while life expectancy is higher for boomers than it was for the previous generation, more boomers are unhealthy by their own admission. Only one in 10 baby boomers reported being in excellent health compared to one-third of their parents who reported the same.
There is one piece of good news: Only 21 percent of boomers are smokers, compared to 28 percent of the older generation.
Lead researcher Dana King says that as baby boomers move into their 60s and 70s, they will utilize the health care system more than ever before. Doctors’ offices will be busier than ever before, and the need for health care professionals will skyrocket in the next decade, she says.