People Used To Be Much Healthier

I heard this story on NPR the other night.

Baby boomers have a reputation for being addicted to exercise and obsessed with eating well.

But that story didn’t jibe with what physician Dana E. King and his colleagues see walking through the door of their family practice every day in Morgantown, W.Va.

“The perception is that the baby boomers are very active β€” they are, you know, climbing up mountains, and they are a very healthy bunch,” says King, a professor in the department of family medicine at the West Virginia University School of Medicine. “We actually see people that are burdened with diabetes, hypertension, obesity, [and] who are taking an awful lot of medication.”

So King and his colleagues mined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a big federal survey, to compare baby boomers β€” those who are now in their late 40s to 60s β€” with people from two decades ago who were in that age bracket.

There were some surprises, says King, who, along with his colleagues, reports the results in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Baby boomers are healthier in some important ways. They are much less likely to smoke, have emphysema or get heart attacks. But in lots of other ways, the picture’s not so great.

The proportion of people with diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity [is] increasing. And perhaps even more disturbing, the proportion of people who are disabled increased substantially,” King says.

Double the percentage of baby boomers, as compared with the previous generation, need a cane or a walker to get around. And even more have problems so bad that they can’t work.

“Only 13 percent of people said they were in excellent health compared with 33 percent a generation ago, and twice as many said they were in poor health,” King says. “And that’s by their own admission.”

Aging Poorly: Another Act Of Baby Boomer Rebellion : Shots – Health News : NPR


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23 Responses to People Used To Be Much Healthier

  1. Bob Johnston says:

    This is a subject near and dear to my heart. I’ll come off like a nut but the problem is carbohydrates, we eat way too much sugar and grains. The science/conventional wisdom of nutrition is on par with global warming; both have run amok with bad science, government money and big business all supporting the status quo (“Fat is bad, whole wheat is good”). There’s plenty of info out there backing up what I propose but most people think us low carbers are just another version of climate deniers and shrug it off.

    After ballooning up to 240 lbs despite being active and eating “healthily”, I tried low carb and the change has been dramatic. I’m back down to my high school weight of 195 w/o increasing my activity (no easy feat at 47) and my energy level is off the charts. My asthma has also gone away.

    If people would just learn that the government is always 180 degrees wrong in everything they say (check out the food pyramid and see how grain heavy it is) then we’d really be better off.

    • Exactly. For me the key is no carbs or dairy. I live 95% on raw fruit and veggies and am much fitter and healthier than most people one third my age.

      • Bob Johnston says:

        My macronutrient balance is somewhere around 70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbs. I’ll eat veggies and the occasional piece of fruit but I’m happiest and most satiated when I eat meat, eggs, cheese, butter and coconut oil. Our diets are different but similar in the aspect that we both limit carbs from sugar and grains. I think that’s probably the key.

      • Raindog says:

        Wow, me too. I avoid animal products and get most of my calories from fruit. Technically carbs aren’t a problem and research shows that low carb diets increase insulin resistence unless you buy into the WAP research which is quite poor and cherry picked (which is exactly what they claim their opponents do)

      • Bob Johnston says:

        Raindog – Um, maybe you should back that assertion up about low carb diets causing insulin resistance with an actual study or two. I can guarantee you any research you find is going to be an observational study where they probably weren’t really looking at a true low carb diet.

        Steve Jobs got his calories from fruit… just sayin’.

    • hannuko says:

      Hear, hear.

      I started LCHF-diet in 2008 and have since lost 15kg while gaining a lot of muscle (BMI now 28). I have never been as healthy as I feel now. All my stomach problems (irritable bowl syndrome, constant diarrhea) disappeared after I stopped eating glutein even though I tested negative for coeliac disease.

      The quide to perfect health as I see it is:
      – Stop eating sugar, syrup and artificial sweeteners
      – Eat a lot less carbs in general
      – Don’t eat anything with glutein
      – Don’t overdo protein (surprisingly hard at first)
      – Avoid any product with added sodium nitrate (usually meats, sausages)
      – Meat products without sodium nitrate are perfectly safe
      – Eat vedgetables as your side dish and remember to fry everything in butter, butter and more butter. And some more butter. I love butter and it loves me. πŸ™‚ Our family of four eat something like 6-8kg of butter each month and my daughters think it’s like candy.

      My blood cholesterol level is slightly up, but my good cholesterol/bad cholesterol levels have improved significantly. My triglyceride levels have crashed to 0.7 (finnish measurement scale), which should pretty much protect me from ever having a cardiovascular disease.

      They say that since animal fat is bad I’m killing myself with this diet, but why am I then feeling this great?

    • Raindog says: -> analysis of Steve Jobs cancer from an MD.

      How to become insulin resistant parts 1 and 2:

      • Bob Johnston says:

        Come on Raindog, don’t make me sit through 35 minutes of vegan BS. Can you just show me a study on PubMed making your case that I can read?

      • hannuko says:

        A swedish doctor was sued by the local diabetic union for recommending her T2D-patients to eat LCHF-diet. They claimed she was endangering her patients. In the court they said there were “thousands of studies” and “scientific concensus” that proved animal fats were dangerous and therefore she should be found guilty.

        Her lawyers asked them to show some of these “thousands of studies”. After months of searching, they came up with no more than three(!), none(!) of which proved what they argued. She was found not guilty and the swedish diabetic union had to stop claiming that they knew what was a healthy diet for diabetics.

        Finnish THL (National Institute of Health and Welfare) still keeps claiming that animal fats are dangerous and they also have been referring to the “thousands of studies” and “scientific concensus”. Last month they finally responded to critics and released the list of 15 studies that proved they were right.

        You propably guess how many of those were really of what they claimed. Yep – none. They made themselves look like complete idiots.

        So I agree with Bob. Show us some studies. THL is in dire need of those to save their face.

  2. So, how many of those people who would have died early of heart attacks make up all the diabetes, etc, patients? How many of them managed to survive childhood compared to previous generations?

    I think we can all agree that a living person is healthier than a dead one, so there must be something else going on when people are objectively living longer, but it seems like we’re less healthy.

    • Lou says:

      It’s the modern medicine that are keeping us alive. Not same as quality… They just make you suffer a lot longer if you don’t fix underlying cause (usually by changing eating habit and making sure you get enough vitamin D).

      Again, it’s the federal government/big pharma/big food business that are directly responsible for this nightmare. It’s all about $$$…

      • So your theory is that because you think someone is unfairly profiting from keeping people alive, we’d be better off letting those people die. Or maybe your vitamin D mania or some conspiracy theory about Big Pharma is just clouding your judgment.

    • Raindog says:

      We aren’t actually living that much longer when you take away child mortality we have about 3 years longer lifespan than we did in 1900. Child mortality has no prediction of whether or not that person was going to be unhealthy as an adult. Lack of exercise and a poor diet predict that.

  3. Lou says:

    Let’s not forget widespread vitamin D deficiency no thanks to sun scare BS. Probably single handily the worst problem of anything because it is responsible for so many things. Lots more up to date information can be found at Grassroots Health and Vitamin D council for anyone not familiar with vitamin D in depth.

  4. Rosco says:

    The baby boomer generation commenced after the horrors of world war 2 – the relief that it was over plus optimism led to increased birth rates.

    The oldest baby boomers are now approaching 70 – not late 40s to 60 !

    That is the next generation that grew up with the huge expansion in take away foods and perpetual TV advertising!

    In Australia we had virtually no take away food during most of the 50s and 60s – the odd Chinese take away. I remember Pizza Hut openings in the early 70s but these were “eat in” not take away.

    Take away foods boomed during the 70s, 80s and 90s and there can be little doubt this is a prime reason for obesity – it is too easy.

    When I was a kid ice cream, soft drinks and any sort of take away food was a luxury restricted to special occasions.

    I also never saw a TV until I was about 8 or 9.

    Try denying a kid any of these today and watch out.

  5. Rosco says:

    I have to say something about the claim – “We aren’t actually living that much longer when you take away child mortality we have about 3 years longer lifespan than we did in 1900.”

    That claim is simply wrong !

    In 1900 the life expectancy of an average male was 49.5 years in Queensland !

    It increased from 70.82 in 1960 to 81.7 in 2010 despite the problems associated with obesity.

    That is an increase of 32.2 years – an amzing increase.

    I haven’t checked the figures for the US but I’d be very surprised if they don’t show similar trends.

    • Bob Johnston says:

      I don’t see how your figures refute the notion that average life span has increased due to lessening infant mortality as well as better treatment for physical injuries and infection.

      Here’s the thing that I always take into consideration when it comes to health – there is no financial interest on the part of anyone in the health industry to make you healthy. If you’re sick then you bring in dollars for doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies (it sounds like they would like to see you healthy but it doesn’t work that way), medical researchers (if disease went away then so would their jobs, ala global warming researchers), and any other industry I may be forgetting. When 15% of GDP is spent on health care (global warming a-holes are pikers in comparison), there’s a huge financial incentive to keep you alive yet sick so you can be a steady source of income to everyone involved.

    • Raindog says:

      They say the same thing, but as steven said, if 50% of infants die, you get a 50% decrease in avg lifespan. Look up the wikipedia article on life expectancy and avg lifespan. It explains it better but the main point is that the more kids that die makes it appear that adults died at younger ages too, which is false.

  6. tckev says:

    If you get the correct combination of drugs from the doctors, you too can believe that you are healthier.

  7. Mike Mangan says:

    In the late 70’s the government declared war on fat and convinced Americans to start eliminating it from their diets. The food industry responded by replacing fat with carbohydrates in their products. The obesity and diabetes epidemics began with this two foolish moves.
    The government acted without enough information, just as they threaten to do with “climate change.” They inadvertently inflicted lasting physical harm on millions of it’s citizens, just as they threaten the economic and personal freedom of millions more with their insane co2 taxes and regulations. The analogy between the two acts should be fleshed out and highlighted.

    • hannuko says:

      You are right and I think that it is excellent that the trickery behind the two scams is so similar.

      More and more people wake up to both scams. When you wake up to one of them, the step to waking up on the other is tiny because you already know that the “thousands of studies” and “scientific concensus” -arguments are BS and carry no weight whatsoever.

      And once you realise there are at least two scams going on by the experts of scientific knowledge, you have a really hard time believing that the government is composed of competent experts with high moral values who have your best of interest at heart.

      After that the only logical political movement is the libertarian one. And this is how we are going to conquer the world – and then leave it alone.


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