Need some good news? How about this, you skinny little baby boomer: yes, you are skinnier than the generation that follows ours … at least in Australia, according to reporter Cosima Marriner of The Sydney Morning Herald.
Generation Xers — those born between 1966 and 1980 — are fatter and more likely to have diabetes in their prime than their baby boomer parents, highlighting the significant deterioration in health in the space of a generation.
But Xers are better educated, less likely to smoke, and more likely to be employed if they are female than baby boomers weree at the same age.
University of Adelaide researchers used data from the 1989-90 and 2007-08 national health surveys to compare attributes of the two generations when they were 25 to 44 years old.
They found those born into Generation X had higher rates of obesity and diabetes than baby boomers (born in the aftermath of World War II) at the same age.
Almost one in five of Generation X males were obese compared with 9-percent of male baby boomers at that age. 13-percent of Generation X females were obese, compared with 10-percent of female baby boomers.
3-percent of males and 8-percent of females in Generation X had diabetes, compared with 1-percent of males and 3-percent of females in the baby boomer cohort.
”We’re getting sicker younger,” researcher Rhiannon Pilkington said. ”The increased prevalence of obesity isn’t because we have an aging population, it’s much more related to our environment.”
Ms. Pilkington said the marked deterioration in health in just one generation was due to the increasingly sedentary lifestyle that people were leading, the increased consumption of processed foods and the decline in incidental physical activity and sleep.
”We’re enjoying increased life expectancy but our healthy life expectancy hasn’t increased at the same rate,” she said. ”If the trend continues there will be a decrease in life expectancy.”
It has already been suggested that Generation Y — born after the Xers — could be the first generation not to outlive their parents. Ms. Pilkington suggested the fact that Generation X didn’t grow up in a period of prosperity as their parents had may have had some bearing on their health.
Generation X is far more educated than their parents — one in three has a university degree compared with 15-percent of male baby boomers and 11-percent of females.
Reflecting the increasing trend for women to return to work after having children, three-quarters of female Xers are employed, compared with two-thirds of female baby boomers.
Edwina Gleeson has taken care not to fall victim to the ill health plaguing her generation. She quit smoking at 34, and having suffered gestational diabetes, Ms. Gleeson took up the Palaeo Diet 18 months ago. The 43-year-old mother of two dropped 16 kilograms (approximately 35 pounds).
”My health has improved,” said Ms. Gleeson, who practices yoga and walks for exercise. ”I feel amazing, I don’t get tired. Hopefully I’ve escaped diabetes and obesity.”
Her stepfather, Bryan Crook, 63, observes that Generation Xers are less settled than his generation.
”I think they’re more educated, and they work longer,” he said. ”Nobody seems to have time. I thought when computers came in there would be more leisure time, but there isn’t.”