The Boomer Generation- an Unhealthy Trend?

More bad news for the Boomer generation- those born 1946 – 1964.

Although great medical advances have been made in the Boomer lifetime, contributing to greater life expectancies, the Boomer generation may be much less healthy than the previous Silent Generation.

A study released online last week in the JAMA Internal Medicine examined the health status of aging Baby Boomers relative to the previous generation. Here are the grim statistics:

  • Overall, only 13.2 percent of Boomers reported themselves in “excellent health” compared to 32% of individuals in the previous generation
  • Diabetes has more than doubled in just one generation. 15.5% of Boomers have diabetes compared to only 6.2% of individuals in their parent’s generation
  • High Blood Pressure? 43% of Boomers vs 36.4% of the Silent Generation
  • Obesity increased to 38.7% of Boomers from 29.4% in the previous generation
  • High Cholesterol is clogging up the works for 73.5% of Boomers versus only 33.8% of individuals in the Silent Generation

So that’s bad news, but it’s an active generation, right? They run and compete in triathlons and walk the Malls and they know the importance of physical activity, don’t they? Well…  Boomers might talk the talk, but they surely don’t walk the walk.

  • Only about 35% of Boomers exercise more than 12 times per month- down from nearly 50% a generation ago
  • More than half of all Boomers report NO regular physical activity

On a national level, what exactly does this generational good-health deficit mean? According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Boomers made up 26.1 percent of the population. Unless these health statistics turn around, the Boomer Generation could strain our workforce numbers and, in the coming decades, impact our ability to provide adequate healthcare- important considerations for future policy planning.

The impact on a personal and individual level is even more significant. In addition to increased financial costs, Boomers will struggle with quality of life issues. While statistics may indicate that Boomers will live longer, they also indicate that the value of those additional years may be diminished by poor health.

Change is never easy… but surely it’s time to change?


Baby Boomer, Mary Catherine Cochran works as a Senior Communications Project Manager at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine where, among other things, she manages and writes for the Well & Wise blog.