Debbie Nicholson

New study reveals baby boomers health is declining

Researchers from West Virginia University School of Medicine investigated the health status of aging baby boomers associated to previous generations to provide a vitally important context for health workforce and policy planning in the coming years, according to the study’s abstract.

Dr. Dana E. King, MD, MS, Professor and Chair of the WVU Department of Family Medicine and lead author of study along with his research team examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination survey (NHANES), including NHANES III (1988-1994) and the NHANES for 2007-2010. Researchers concentrated on participants who were 46 to 64 years during either period of surveys.

The research compared the two cohorts in regards to health status, functional and work disability, healthy lifestyle characteristics, and presence of chronic disease.

Dr. King said of the results that he and his team were somewhat surprised to find that boomers were not as healthy as previously believed. In fact, baby boomers have higher levels of hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and higher rates of disability than their parents.

The study also revealed that even though life expectancy was higher than the previous generation, more baby boomers admitted they were unhealthy. According to Dr. King, only one in ten baby boomers had reported their health as excellent in comparison to one-third of their parents who also reported excellent health.

The baby boomer generation started in 1946 with 3.4 million babies being born and tapered off in 1964. Between those years 76.4 million baby boomers were born, according to the History website.

According to Dr. King, as baby boomers move into their 60s and 70s, they will utilize the healthcare system more than ever before. Doctors' offices will be busier than ever before, and the need for healthcare professionals will sky rocket in the next decade.

The study revealed when it came to healthy lifestyle factors obesity was more common among baby boomers (38.7%) in comparison to the previous generation (29.4%). Baby boomers also had more hypertension (43.0%) compared to the previous generation (36.4%).

Baby boomers are believed to have a more active lifestyle than their parents but the study revealed that only 35.0% had regular exercise in comparison to their parents at 49.9% of regular exercise.

This study is published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Slideshow; Health Conditions and Baby Boomers