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Courtney Virgilio, MD

Boomers Falling Behind on Their Health

Courtney Virgilio, M.D., FACC, FASE
Medical Director, Noninvasive Cardiology Rush-Copley Medical Center

Despite all of the medical advances we have today, U.S. baby boomers are in worse health than their parents were at the same age. 

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that boomers have higher rates of chronic disease, more disability and lower self-rated health than the previous generation.  Among baby boomers, high cholesterol was more common (73.5% vs 33.8%), and medication used to treat it was more than 10 times greater.  Boomers also showed higher rates of diabetes and, importantly, of obesity.

I believe the key to this rise in health issues for the Baby Boomer generation is the rise in obesity. Obesity is one of the most preventable and modifiable risk factors.  Obesity sets people up for hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol as well as more osteoarthritis issues.  People who have excess body fat, especially around the waist, are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke even if they have no other risk factors. Despite the benefits of exercise to help combat obesity and the downstream ill health it imposes on people, more than half (52.2%) of baby boomers in the study said they engaged in no regular physical activity.

Regardless of your age, it is never too late to adopt a healthier lifestyle.  Maintaining a healthier weight will lower your risk for multiple health issues now and down the road. It is not just the genes/jeans you're born with, but how you wear them counts too.

Request an Appointment with Dr. Virgilio.

Three Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle

1. See your doctor – A check-up with your doctor can help you assess your current health condition and screen for potential health issues. 

2. Review your diet – Start tracking what you eat for a week to understand your eating habits.  There are lots of apps and online tools that can analyze your calorie, fat and nutrition intake to help you see if you are consuming too many calories for your level of activity.

3. Get moving – The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise most days of the week, in addition to resistance exercise, or weight lifting. Remember, anything is better than nothing, so just get moving!