Are Boomers Really Healthier?

OK, Upgraded Seniors.  Here’s a study that we really need to take note of.  I don’t know about you, but I have always assumed that the Boomer generation, in general, was a more health conscious and, indeed, healthier, generation that the one that preceded it.

Well, not so fast, Mr. and Ms. Fitness!

Comparing Boomer Health To Previous Generations

True enough, Boomers are living longer on average than prior generations, but does that really mean they are healthier?  What a coincidence!  Researchers at the West Virginia School of Medicine and the Medical School of South Carolina asked the same question recently, and then went searching for the answer.

The researchers knew that the Boomers are living longer, on average, than previous generations, but the real question is, “is that increased longevity a result of a healthier population, or just the result of advances in medicine?”

To get the answer, the researchers compared data from two sets of responses to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Baby Boomers (avg. age 54.1) responded to the survey between 2007 and 2010.  The prior generation (avg. age 54.5) responded to the survey between 1988 and 1994.  So, my fellow Boomers, how did we stack up?

Boomers Are Not Healthier Than the Previous Generation!

I find this rather startling, but it turns out that we “health-conscious” Boomers are not raising the bar in the health arena.  I guess if I’d looked around at my local mall, grocery store or all-you-can-eat buffet I would have suspected these results, but I am still surprised.

Here’s a summary of the study which I put together.  It pretty much says it all.

  • 13.2% of the Boomers rated their health as excellent, compared to 32% in the previous generation
  • More Boomers have high cholesterol readings (73.5% vs. 33.8%).
  • More Boomers have high blood pressure (43% vs. 36.4%)
  • More Boomers have diabetes (15.5% vs. 12%)
  • More Boomers are obese (38.7% vs. 29.4%)
  • More Boomers have cancer (10.6% vs. 9.5%).  This difference, according to the study, is not statistically significant.
  • More Boomers use a “walking assist device.” (7% vs. 3.3%)
  • More Boomers have a “functional limitation” of some type. (13.5% vs. 8.8%)
  • More Boomers are limited at work. (13.8% vs. 10.1%)
  • Fewer Boomers exercise regularly (35% vs. 49.9%)
  • More Boomers get no regular physical activity (52.2% vs. 17.4%)

Pitiful!  I am ashamed of my generation’s results in this study.  It’s a sad commentary on our lifestyle as a group.  But, all is not lost.  There were a few areas where we “shined.”

  • Drinking is almost twice as common in Boomers than the previous generation (67.3% vs. 37.2%).  Hmmm.  Is this a good thing?
  • Fewer Boomers smoke (21.3% vs. 27.6%)
  • Boomers are less likely to have emphysema (2.3% vs. 3.5%)
  • Fewer Boomers have had a heart attack (3.6% vs. 5.3%)

The Boomer Report Card (We Flunked!)

So, the teachers are ready to give us our report card.  You’d better sit down and be prepared to have a long talk with your parents when you get home.  The authors of the study said,

“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.” 

‘Nuff said.  Boomers, we need to get busy becoming Upgraded Seniors!  And on that note, there is good news.

Dana M. King, M.D., one of the researchers in the study, reported that research has also shown that even people in their 50s and 60s can turn back the clock with exercise.  And here’s something else to encourage you to get busy Upgrading your Seniordom:

“If you had to pick one thing, one single thing that came closest to the fountain of youth,” says James Fries, M.D., a pioneer researcher on healthy aging at Stanford University, “then it would have to be exercise.”

With all due respect to Dr. Fries, I would have to question whether nutrition is not closer to a fountain of youth than exercise, although both are critically important.

One thing jumps out at me from the results of the foregoing study.  Almost all of the problems we Boomers are identified as having are lifestyle related, meaning poor nutritional habits and lack of exercise.

Can you say “personal responsibility?”  If I am not clear, watch the humorous Adam Carolla video, which I have made readily accessible at UpgradedSenior.Com.

The good news about lifestyle related problems is that we have it within our power to change our lifestyles.  That’s what UpgradedSenior.Com is all about.

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