Baby boomers need to save themselves

The baby boomers are strictly identified as being born between 1946 and 1964. The boom lasted 19 years and delivered 76 million total births. “Leading edge” boomers were between 1946 and 1955. They were the generation that were the wealthiest, most active, and most physically fit generation that had ever lived. They were special and expected to have better lives than their parents.

Well, those leading edge boomers are now middle age and getting AARP bulletins. And a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals their overall health status was lower than prior generations, with only 13.2% reporting “excellent” health compared with 32% of individuals in the previous generation (P less than .001). To really paint the picture, researchers reported more than twice as many baby boomers used walking assist devices (6.9% vs 3.3%), more were limited in their work by disability (13.8% vs 10.1%), and 13.5% vs 8.8% were coping with some type of functional limitation.

But wait … that’s not all.

In addition, more baby boomers are obese compared with the previous generation (38.7% vs 29.4%), and they reported exercising significantly less often (35.0% vs 49.9% exercised more than 12 times per month). In fact, more than half the baby boomer respondents said they engaged in no regular physical activity (52.2% vs 17.4%).

How can this be? The baby boomers have the benefit of great scientific research, all the health information in the world available on the internet and they are fat and sedentary?

These same baby boomers make up 26.1% of the U.S. population. That is a lot of unhealthy people.

So if we piece this study together it means that these baby boomers may live a few years longer than prior generations but they are more likely to suffer chronic illness and be unable to care for themselves.

As a baby boomer myself, I find this study to be alarming and depressing at the same time. It’s not too late for boomers to save themselves and save their children from the burden of caring for them. They can start with learning the toxic effects of sugar and pre-packaged foods. Instead of going to Walmart and buying more stuff we don’t need, how about starting a rooftop garden or a walking group with friends. Buy a pedometer and a blood pressure monitor and take charge of your health.

I know this sounds preachy but this is just plain “messed-up” (as my 17 year old would say). Baby boomers, save yourselves! I don’t want to watch everyone in an electric cart as I get older and I know there won’t be enough doctors to take care of all of the chronic disease.

Toni Brayer is an internal medicine physician who blogs at EverythingHealth.

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  • Kristy Sokoloski

    Excellent article, but as far as the issue of trying to get people to eat healthier the answer many are going to give is “I can’t afford it”. So, the question is this: What can be done to make eating healthy more affordable so that people don’t get sicker (I am part of the generation that came after the Baby Boom. I was born in 1971.) further driving up the costs of healthcare?

    • Weatherby_Eric

      Kristy has a good point. It’s much easier to pay $5 for a handful of pre-packaged and preservative-stuffed meals than it is to pay $20 for a week’s worth of fresh fruit and veggies. Something needs to be done to make healthy living a more affordable option.

    • Guest

      And what is keeping them from exercising? Taking a 45 minute walk every evening costs NOTHING, yet more than half of these fat lazy entitlement-minded slobs said they engaged in NO regular physical activity.

      They’re not even trying.

      • Kristy Sokoloski

        I am not sure what the total number of people are in the Baby Boom generation are when it comes to exact figures, but to say that they aren’t even trying that’s making a judgment call. You are making a judgment call without knowing all the facts for why some of them can’t do it. I do know though that there will still be some that will say “I can’t afford it”. And maybe that is the case for some of them that they can’t afford to do it because to buy shoes is very expensive. However, even if you are right about that they aren’t even trying if they don’t want to do the work that it takes to make them healthier then that is their choice. Is it the right choice? Of course not but as long as they are capable of making their own decisions including about health no one can make them do it. Unfortunately a lot of people in this country don’t get regular physical activity regardless of their age. What would you like the Primary Care Physicians to do? They can only do so much when it comes to education about healthier lifestyle choices and the rest is up to the person, and if they don’t want to do it what then?

      • militarymedical

        “Entitlement-minded slobs”? Excuse me? I’m nearly 67 and retired last year, after working continuously (except for a month or two after each of my three kids were born), including 30 years in the military. I have a retirement payment from the military and Social Security – both of which I EARNED, dear Guest. I weigh 10 lbs. more than I did when I graduated from college 45 years ago, which is probably a good thing as that puts my weight into the 3-digit category (I’m 5’3″). I have applied for VA disability pay – which I also EARNED, the hard way. While I dislike exercise intensely (if I get the urge to exercise, I lay down until it passes …), I have been genetically fortunate to have normal weight and few health issues – at least in my opinion.

        I have a seizure disorder, but have been seizure-free for 30+ years. I’ve been taking medication for about 35 years and since the system ain’t broke, I see no need to fix it by going off that med. I have HTN as a result of CRF (reversing the usual chain of events); HTN controlled with minimal doses of two meds only, and no treatment other than watchful waiting for the CRF.

        So just what is it you want me to do to meet your moronic demands? By the way, what have YOU done for your country lately?

  • Steven Reznick

    Well said !

  • Mandy

    You’re saying that the reason nearly 39% of Boomers are clinically obese is that they can’t afford the right foods?

    And the reason more than 52% of them engage in no regular physical activity is that they can’t afford SHOES?

    Seriously? A pound of ground chuck is $3.50. Add to that a tomato and a head of lettuce and you’ve got 4 quarter pounders plus salad for less than 5 bucks. Unsweetened iced tea or water to drink, no bun, skip the fries. Try to beat that at McDonalds for either price or health value. High-fiber cereal with a banana and skim milk for breakfast, a simple sandwich or salad with an apple for lunch… all that is as cheap or cheaper (and far healthier) than buying processed hi-fat hi-salt hi-sugar muck.

    As for shoes you can comfortably walk in, throw in a trip to the outlet mall for $39.99 Reeboks that will last you a year of daily walks (than comes out to about 11 cents per day) and you’re set.

    I’m really tired of this “It’s not my fault I’m fat and out of shape, I can’t AFFORD to be any other way” nonsense. If someone chooses a completely sedentary lifestyle eating nothing but junk, that’s their choice. But they need to own the consequences of their behavior.

  • Molly_Rn

    Watch the animated film, “WALL-E”. It’s all about baby boomers (I hate that name) and what we can do to the earth. One of the good buys is a little cockroach. Great film for adults and kids.

  • wiseword

    I don’t understand these heated comments. Nothing was said in the original article about not being able to afford shoes or groceries. Quite the contrary. So why the hysteria?

  • Dorothygreen

    There’s lots that can be done.

    First just stop the AGMs (attention getting mechanisms) that make everyone angry such that they won’t listen to how dangerous this situation is.

    calling foks “fat lazy entitlement-minded slobs”
    calling our government “nanny state” – when taxing sugar is suggested
    Calling a tax on unhealthy food “a behavior modification for fatties”
    Calling it a “sin tax”
    And yeah, we really do need to tax all processed sugar and refined grains (give these the biggest rate), Then, all the vegetables oils that are > 50% Omega 6, all corn fed animal meat and their products, and added sodium to food over 200 mg. This will provide more than $100 Billion a year that MUST be invested into measures directly related to health care from chronic preventable diseases. (I have done preliminary calculations. on what I call a RISK tax) and why not? someone invented the term value added tax? Then even on the tobacco packages and alcohol bottles it would be a RISK message rather than “warning label”

    Don’t change the designation of obesity to a “disease”, it is not, it is a RISK factor. If it is done, folks will then not be so responsible about what they eat and more money than is already being wasted will be used in unnecessary tests and pharmaceuticals. Overeating is an eating disorder.

    Change the farm bill to address health and not profits. As it is we are subsidizing obesity and all chronic preventable diseases. We know how to grow healthy food – there is enough to feed the world – most of it is not nutrition dense and at least 30% is wasted. This is where some permanent jobs can be created and shifted from folks working in the dredge jobs of industrial food like corn silos, feedlots.

    Healthy food should be reasonably priced – there is room for frozen, canned and fresh depending on income. If one can’t afford steak there is chicken or beans. However one choices, unhealthy food must become more expensive than healthy food or we not only will have a decreased functional life span but no lasting solution to healthy care costs and climate change.

  • SBornfeld

    Who you callin’ “special”?

  • Mark Samuel

    I think I will become a Vegetarian, veg on the coach with my getar on my riran

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