The good news is that we seem to be living longer. The not so good news is that we're all less healthy! Certainly if we compare the post war baby boomers with the generation which preceded them. Life expectancy might be rising, especially as new medical advances are made, but the question is, are we doing enough to keep up our end of the bargain and take responsibility for our own health and fitness too? If not, then an aging population and increasing healthcare costs could be debilitating to a country's economy, and to individuals as well.
It is a misconception that the reason people are living longer is because they are so much healthier than the generations that came before them. Instead, other factors may be contributing to longevity rather than our lifestyles and diet. The West Virginia University School of Medicine study found that compared to the generation before them, the baby boomers:
- Suffer from higher blood pressure
- Have higher cholesterol
- Are more likely to have diabetes
- Had higher obesity figures
- Exercise less
The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, analyzed results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, over several years, looking at participants aged between 46 and 64, for each of the individual surveys. Just 13% of baby boomers were reported to be in excellent health compared to a far greater 32% of the same age group from the generation before them.
Baby boomers vs their parents
The statistics that came out of the study reveal issues that baby boomers and generations to follow, might want to think about. Longevity is only really an advantage if you're in good enough shape to enjoy it. Here are the baby boomers results versus those of their parents!
- Obesity - Nearly 39% compared to over 29%.
- Diabetes - 15.5% against 12%.
- Hypertension - 43% - a rise compared to over 26%.
- Exercise - Around 35% of baby boomers are exercising more than 12 times per month, compared to 50% of the generation before. A more startling statistic is that over 52% of baby boomers seemed to be getting no regular physical activity at all, which is in stark contrast to just over 17% in their more active parents.
- Walking assistance - The use of canes and walking support has also seen a 3% rise, doubling figures.
- Drinking - Modern life has brought with it a more alcohol-rich lifestyle too it seems. Moderate drinking has shifted from just over 37% to above 67%
- Smoking and emphysema - Some good news at last! Smoking is definitely going out of fashion, with around 21% of people lighting up compared to nearly 28% from the earlier generation. Because of this, emphysema has dropped too, from 3.5% to just over 2%.
As technology, medical research and health care improves and develops, potentially improving quality of life, today's generations are battling processed foods, sedentary lifestyles and the unique stresses of the world today. As you strive forward in life, is it time to learn some lessons from the past when it comes to looking after your best interests, your health?