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Generation X at Greater Diabetes Risk

Apr 10, 2014

They are evolving into a more unhealthy generation…. 

According to researchers, people born during the "Generation X" years are more likely to have diabetes than ‘baby-boomers’ at the same age.

This study refers to ‘Generation X’ as people born between 1966 through 1980 and ‘Baby-boomers’ as those born from 1946 to 1965.

According to the authors of this study, younger generations will not only be sicker but also more expensive to care for as they age.

Using national health survey data, researchers analyzed groups between the ages of 25 and 44.

Researchers found that while ‘Generation X’ is more educated and less likely to smoke, their prevalence of obesity was almost 50% higher than that of the ‘baby-boomers’ at the same age. This trend, and corresponding increased risk of diabetes, was noted as being especially high in males.

These findings suggest the current generation may be vulnerable earlier in life to diabetes, hypertension and other lifestyle-related diseases. This may ultimately result in them being pulled out of the labor force at a much younger age than those of the ‘baby-boomer’ generation. If these trends persist, negative health outcomes will result. Health care costs will undoubtedly increase at an even higher rate than they currently are.

Experts point to changes in lifestyle, activity and food choices, as the major contributors to these risks. As the author points out, "The physical activity and food environment has changed drastically over the past decades to one in which transport options encourage sedentary behavior and food high in fat and sugar is often more readily available than a healthier alternative."

This study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that the prevalence of obesity and related chronic conditions is increasing in successive generations. Looking further back in time, ‘baby-boomers’ in the U.S. have been shown to have a greater prevalence of obesity than people born from between 1926 to 1945.

Gale J., Gen-X Are More Likely to Have Diabetes Than Baby Boomers. Pilkington R. PLoS One. 2014;doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0093087.