There have been a lot of changes in the healthcare field in the last 50 years. Doctors have a much better understanding of many conditions than they did in the past. There are also lots of new medicines available today to treat a wide variety of different diseases. New technologies and new machines allow doctors to do a great deal of testing and procedures as part of treating some conditions.
With all of this new knowledge, medicine, and technology, you might think that people today would be healthier overall than they were 50 years ago. In some cases this is true, but in others, unfortunately, it is not.
According to a recent study, people from Generation X are much more likely to suffer from diseases like diabetes and obesity than people from the Baby Boomer generation.
The study used health surveys to compare the rates of different diseases and other lifestyle habits between Generation X (born between 1966 and 1980) and the Baby Boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1965). In particular, researchers wanted to compare rates of:
The people in the study were all between the ages of 25 and 44 at the time that they took the health surveys.
The results of the study showed that, compared to Generation X, Baby Boomers were:
- More than twice as likely to report their health as being “excellent”
- More likely to be smokers
The study also found that, when compared to Baby Boomers, people from Generation X were:
- More likely to have diabetes
- More than twice as likely to be overweight or obese
According to the health surveys, there was no difference in the amount of physical activity that each generation reported doing.
What could explain these results?
Researchers think that the reason there have been changes in the rates of diabetes and obesity is because there have been changes in the types of foods that were available to each generation. For Generation X, heavily processed foods, and foods high in fat and sugar are much more common, and eaten much more frequently than they were for Baby Boomers.
What do these results mean for you?
Diabetes and obesity are serious diseases that can lead to a lot of dangerous health problems. Plus, the earlier in life they develop, the larger effect they can have on you—this could include limiting your ability to work and enjoy life.
So, what’s the solution to this growing problem? If you want to get healthy, there are two simple steps you can take:
1. Improve your diet: this means eating more fruits and vegetables, healthy fats (like olive oil, walnuts, and avocados), unprocessed, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, and lean protein (like tofu, beans, lentils and fish). It also means eating less desserts, sugary drinks (soda, fruit juice, energy drinks), processed snack foods (like chips and crackers), and fast food.
2. Get more exercise: anything that gets your heart rate up counts as physical activity. This includes brisk walking, jogging, playing with your kids, housework or even taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Past studies have found that exercise is very good for your health, even if you lose only a very small amount of weight.
The take home points
- People from Generation X are more likely to suffer from diseases like diabetes and obesity than older generations.
- These diseases can have a big impact on your overall health and quality of life.
- For lasting weight loss, eat less and move more.
- Talk to your healthcare provider at your next office visit if you have any questions about what you read here.