According to a recent study, Gen X and Y are demonstrating higher levels of unhealthy behaviors and poorer physical health, in comparison with older generations. The study was reported in the “American Journal of Epidemiology” on March 18, 2021.
Since the 21st century begun, mortality and morbidity has been growing among younger and middle-aged Americans. Researchers from the Ohio State University, Columbus looked into these unfavorable trends to discover whether they extended to the younger generations and their basal behavioral, psychological and physiological mechanisms.
The researchers — Paola Echave and Hui Zheng — studied trends in physical and mental health among two groups of grown-up who took part in the NHIS and the NHANES surveys, between 1997–2018 and 1988–2016 respectively.
They discovered that for every racial and gender group, physiological dysregulation had grown continuously from individuals born between 1946 and 1964, commonly referred to as baby boomers, through people born between 1965 and 1979/80, known as Generation X, and individuals born between 1981 and 1994/1996, commonly referred to as Generation Y. Baby boomers are currently aged between 57 and 75 years old, Gen X individuals are currently aged between 41 and 56 years old, while Gen Y individuals are now aged between 25 and 40 years old.
The researchers found that Black males had the highest increase in low urinary albumin, which is a marker for chronic inflammation, while the magnitude of increase was higher for white males, in comparison with other groups.
Additionally, their findings show that levels of depression and anxiety had increased for every generation of white individuals, from those born in the years 1943 to 1945 (the war babies generation) through Generation Y.
The researchers also observed an increase in heavy drinking across all generations for Black and white men, especially after Generation X. This is in addition to higher levels of smoking and drug use in comparison with their Hispanic and Black counterparts.
The researchers discovered that the probability of using drugs grew with late boomers before declining and then increasing again for Generation X.
In addition to this, they found that smoking was not the cause of the growing physiological dysregulation among the different groups. Finally, obesity was found to be a contributing factor to the rise in metabolic syndrome but not the increase of chronic inflammation that was observed.
In their report, the authors noted that the worsening mental health and physiological profiles among younger generations signaled a rather difficult mortality and morbidity prospect for Americans, one that could be especially unfavorable for white individuals.
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