Baby Boomers May Outlive Their Kids
High Obesity Rates Set Younger Generation Up for Poor Health
April 9, 2010 -- Because of rising obesity rates among young people, more
and more baby boomers may outlive their children.
A new study shows that a generational shift in obesity rates is setting the
younger generation up for shorter life and poorer health in comparison to their
“Our research indicates that higher numbers of young and middle-age American
adults are becoming obese at younger and younger ages,” researcher Joyce Lee,
MD, MPH, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Michigan, says in a
Researchers found that 20% of people born between 1966 and 1985 were obese
in their 20s, an obesity prevalence milestone not reached by their parents
until their 30s or by their grandparents until their 40s or 50s.
That means more Americans are getting heavier earlier in their lives and
carrying the extra pounds for longer periods of time, which suggests that the
impact for chronic disease and life expectancy may be worse than previously
In the study, published in the International Journal of Obesity,
researchers compared national obesity rates for children and adults born
between 1926 and 2005.
Recent research has shown that obesity rates have doubled among adults and
tripled among children in the U.S., and researchers say more study is needed to
understand how these trends will affect life expectancy and obesity-related
diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
Researchers say current life expectancy predictions were based on obesity
rates in 1988-1994, which was the midpoint of the obesity epidemic and included
many older adults born in 1885-1976 who had much lower obesity rates over their
Their results showed that people born between 1966 and 1985 became obese at
a much faster rate than people born in previous generations. Researchers found
that 20% of people born in 1966-1985 were obese by 20-29 years of age. That
prevalence of obesity was not reached until ages 50-59 for people born in
1926-1935 and until ages 40-49 for people born a decade later.
The study also showed that obesity rates were consistently higher among
women and African-Americans than for men and whites. For example, among people
aged 20-29, 20% of whites and 35% of African-Americans were obese.
But the percentage of men and African-Americans who became obese in the last
decade of life was higher than among women and whites.