Baby Boomers Worrying About The Wrong Disease?

Age-standardised disability-adjusted life year...

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A recent poll by Knowledge Networks on behalf of the Associated Press and compared health attitudes and actual health for the baby boomer generation versus the rest of the population (conflict of interest notice – Doc Gurley just falls in the boomer category herself). While the poll actually shows a great deal of similarity between the groups, there are some interesting differences. The full survey can be found here.

Most of the differences between baby boomers and everyone else seem to be around dicrepancies between beliefs about health and realities. Boomers are most concerned about cancer as a disease when they get older (44%), then memory loss (20%) and then heart disease (13%). Although a lot of the coverage of this poll doesn’t mention it, this actually tracks pretty closely to the rest of the population although in eachof these three cases, boomers are more worried than the rest of the population.

The reality, however, is that heart disease is the most common cause of death, followed by cancer and that is followed by strokes. The poll goes on to lok at exercise and diet and shows that boomers are more likely than everybody else to change their diet in order to affect their health. The poll also asks about exercise and again both grups agree about exercise in terms of using exercise to change their health, it is still noticable that more boomers will change their diet to change their health than will exercise to change their health (73% versus 57%).

So the real story is that we all are worrying a bit too little about heart disease and are looking to the easy option – diet – as the solution. Instead we should all be looking at diet AND exercise. Boomers are just a little more at risk and a little less keen on exercise than everyone else.

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