Wednesday, November 26, 2014

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Baby boomers in poorer health than their parents at the same age

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Baby boomers in poorer health than their parents at the same age
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10,000 baby boomers turn 65 everyday. But for the first time ever, this generation is in worse health than their parents were at that age. That's according to a study analyzing data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. As our Katie Gibas reports, the good news is baby boomers can turn things around with a few behavioral changes.

UNITED STATES -- Medicine has changed a lot in the last few decades, and so has our health.

"Health care in general was focused on disease treatment. And now we're more into health preservation and chronic disease management," said Dr. John Epling, the Upstate Medical University Family Medicine Chair.

Dr. Kaushal Nanavati, the Director of Integrative Medicine at Upstate Cancer Center added, "Our lifestyle has become more sedentary. The amount of calories we consume as a society has gone up a lot."

And that lifestyle is taking a toll on our bodies. According to a recent study, baby boomers are in worse health than their parents were at the same age. It found that the younger generation is more likely to have hypertension, diabetes and be obese. But experts say the results don't spell catastrophe, yet.

"We have changed the definition of a lot of these chronic diseases in the last 20 years fairly dramatically. So many more people meet the standard of having these chronic diseases. I think it's too early to draw conclusions about our overall health declining," said Epling.

But what is concerning is the unhealthy habits leading to these diseases. More than half of baby boomers report no regular physical activity, compared with 17 percent in the previous generation.

While experts are concerned with these statistics, they say the good news is baby boomers can takes steps to improve their health.

"Concentrate on an active lifestyle with a healthy diet. And that doesn't mean to diet all the time because I don't think that's a healthy way to go about eating," said Epling.

And mental health is just as important when it comes to your physical well being.

"The idea of stress management and owning what's yours and dealing with it and letting go of what's not yours and letting someone else deal with it," said Nanavati.

Epling added, "Good friends, family, those things, investing in those relationships and keeping those relationships healthy and vibrant and interesting is part of it."

Also, experts say don't underestimate how much a good night's sleep can help your overall health. And ultimately, it's up to you to make the changes needed for a healthier lifestyle.

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