PhD candidate Rhiannon Pilkington has recently published her research findings comparing the health of Baby Boomers (born 1946-1965) with Generation X (1966-1980) at the same age of 25-44 years, in the medical journal PLOS One. Rhiannon’s co-authors and supervisors were Associate Professor Anne Taylor, Professor Graham Hugo and Professor Gary Wittert from the University of Adelaide.
Using National Health Survey data, Rhiannon found that Gen X males (18.3%) had a higher prevalence of obesity (BMI>30) than Baby Boomers (9.4%) at the same age. Consistent with this Gen X males were more likely to have diabetes and a lower prevalence of “excellent” self-reported health (21.8%) than Gen X males (35.9%). Smoking prevalence has gone down in Gen x males by 6% but there were no differences in the reported levels of physical activity. Tertiary educational attainment was higher among Gen X males (27.6%) compared to Baby Boomers (15.2%).
So who are healthier? Probably Baby Boomers
Successive generational cohorts are developing obesity and related chronic conditions earlier in the life course. Diet, environment changes favouring sedentary life styles and stressors are likely to contribute. Together, these two generations form 76.7% of Australia’s labour force and early work force exit due to obesity related health-problems has important economic implications as has these results for the future impact on health services.