Gen X overtaking baby boomers on obesity – in Oz – and probably here, as well

New research from the University of Adelaide shows that Generation X is already on the path to becoming more obese than their baby boomer predecessors.

Studies show that boomers currently have the highest level of obesity of any age group in Australia. However, new research by University of Adelaide PhD student Rhiannon Pilkington has revealed some alarming statistics. As part of her research, she has compared obesity levels between the two generations at equivalent ages.

Using data from the National Health Survey, Ms Pilkington compared Generation X in 2008 to boomers at the same age, in 1989…

At the same age, Gen X males have nearly double the prevalence of obesity: 18.3% compared with 9.4% for boomers. There is a smaller but still significant difference in females, with 12.7% of Gen X women being obese in 2008 and 10.4% of boomer females obese in 1989.

“This does not bode well for the future health of Generation X,” she says…

“Boomers and Gen X together make up more than 75% of Australia’s workforce. Their health and the role of the workplace in promoting a healthy, or unhealthy, environment is of critical importance to the Australian economy, to society and to people’s quality of life,” Ms Pilkington says.

“Obesity has become the new smoking – it’s a major driver of ill health, with coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes highest on the list of preventable illnesses. Obesity also costs billions of dollars to our economy each year. Anything we can do to mitigate the damage being done to both generations of Australians by obesity will be hugely important for the future of our nation.”

Happens to be something I’ve been reflecting on, lately – especially with the advent of the Advantage programs added to Medicare by Obama. Though I’ve been an advocate of healthy exercise and nutrition for years, I took kind of a late start at reforming my own lifestyle after years of living on the road, so to speak. I certainly didn’t avail myself of the minimal health checkups I had access to.

Now, part of the new programmatic approach to a longer healthier life is access to testing, exams, exercise programs as good as anything I ever devised – and nutritional counseling. Though everything worked out by my honey and me is sufficient, I have to admit the prompting keeps me conscious of working a bit more at growing a longer, healthier life.

I like it.