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Baby Boomers Have More Health Problems than their Parents' Generation

Update Date: Feb 05, 2013 06:50 AM EST

Baby boomers, an estimated 78 million people born between 1946 and 1964, suffer from more health complications than their parents, according to a new study.

Although health care has improved significantly during this generation's lifetime, new research shows that baby boomers' health is in worse shape than their parents' generation, mostly due to the increase in obesity rates and decline in physical activity.

"There seems to be somewhat of a disconnect between the reputation of baby boomers for being healthy and what we see in increasing rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. It's really discouraging that they're not the healthiest generation," said Dr. Dana King, professor of family medicine at West Virginia University School of Medicine and study author, reports HealthDay.

The study was conducted by researchers from West Virginia University School of Medicine who compared the health of baby boomers with that of the previous generation. Data for the study was derived from National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys. The study participants' age was 54 years, on an average.

Researchers found that just 13.2 percent of baby boomers had "excellent health", compared to 32 percent of people from the previous generation.

Obesity rates probably show why baby boomers suffer from ill-heath, as more than 38 percent of baby boomers are diagnosed as being obese, compared with a little over 29 percent in the previous generation.

Also, the seniors today are less likely to be physically active than their parents, with just 52 percent reporting no physical activity.

According to a report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in every 30 baby boomers has been infected with hepatitis C, and most are unaware about the infection. In 2012, the agency had asked all baby boomers to get a one-time test for hepatitis C.

"Despite their longer life expectancy over previous generations, U.S. baby boomers have higher rates of chronic disease, more disability and lower self-rated health than members of the previous generation at the same age. On a positive note, baby boomers are less likely to smoke cigarettes and experience lower rates of emphysema and myocardial infarction than the previous generation," according to the study.

The study is published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.    

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