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Boomers' Health Fails to Measure Up to Parents'
Date:2/5/2013

o 21 percent -- shows the value of conducting a concerted public health campaign. He said the nation needs to focus the same amount of effort now on obesity to discover truly effective solutions.

The findings didn't surprise some experts.

"Obesity seems to be the underlying cause of many of the health issues baby boomers are facing," said Nancy Copperman, a registered dietitian and director of public health initiatives at North Shore-LIJ Health System, in Great Neck, N.Y. "I wasn't surprised to see the data because we've seen the obesity epidemic over the past two to three decades really increase, and with that heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure."

The study tapped data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Factors used to compare the two generations included health status, functional and work disability, healthy lifestyle characteristics, and presence of chronic disease.

The baby boomer generation had a higher percentage of people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity than did their parents' generation.

Disability was defined conservatively, said King. "To be considered disabled you had to be walking only with an assistance device, such as a cane, or only able to climb up 10 steps, have trouble stooping down, or walking a quarter of a mile," he explained. Again, boomers consistently had a higher level of disability than their parents' generation.

So what was the previous generation doing right? "There was a huge difference in their typical amount of exercise," said King. "Fifty percent were getting moderate physical activity 12 times a month, while just 35 percent of baby boomers got that much exercise."

The research also showed that medication use for high blood pressure was higher among baby boomers, and prescription drug use for high cholesterol was 10 times greater among the younger generation than among the previous generation. Of course, many of
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