By Amy Norton Healthday Reporter
THURSDAY, March 25, 2021 (HealthDay News) – While the drug may have surpassed leaps and bounds in the last century, Generation X and Millennials were in worse health than their parents and grandparents were their age. .
This is the conclusion of a new study that looks at markers of physical and mental health across generations.
And overall, there has been a downhill slide over time: General X’ers and Millennials were in a worse position when it came to various health measures. They also reported more anxiety and depression symptoms, heavy drinking and drug use.
According to Benjamin Miller, chief strategy officer of the nonprofit Well Being Trust in Oakland, California, the conclusion is, unfortunately, no surprise.
“Such studies show what we have known,” said Miller, who was not involved in the research.
Recent years have seen a well-known national increase in suicides, drug abuse and problem-drinking deaths, which some experts have dubbed a “death of despair”.
Those deaths accelerated during and after the 2008 recession, and not much changed, Miller said.
Generation X usually refers to Americans born between 1965 and 1980, while millennials (or generation Y) are generally said to include those born between 1981 and the mid-1990s. In this study, the range was 1981 to 1999.
In general, both generations worsened when it comes to “physical deformity”, including high blood pressure and cholesterol, excess abdominal fat, and substances in the blood that suggest the body is in a state of chronic inflammation. .
The study authors stated that the signs of physical deformity began to increase with the baby boomer generation compared to those born before 1946 and continued to worsen from there.
The study’s leader, considered a precursor to various chronic diseases, and a risk factor for earlier deaths, is Hua Zheng, associate professor of sociology at The Ohio State University in Columbus.
One obvious potential doubt is obesity. And Zheng’s analysis suggested the rising obesity rate is part of a deteriorating physical health trend, but not all of it.
Zheng said that no study can get to the roots of such a complex issue. But it is already clear that the solution would be to go beyond asking Americans to eat better and exercise more.
“The decline in health among younger generations is not just a personal problem, but a social problem,” Zheng said. “Society needs to change” [obesity-promoting] Environment, reducing inequality and increasing job security for younger generations. “
Miller made the same point.
“If you just point to obesity as a problem, you’ll never get into the heart of it,” he said. “It’s a social problem, it’s an economical problem.”
Conclusion, recently published American Journal of Epidemiology, Are based on data from more than 688,000 Americans who participated in any of the two long-running government health studies.
When it comes to lifestyle habits, drinking heavily with Gen X began to occur, especially among white men and women and black men. Drug abuse, meanwhile, peaked in the Baby Boomer generation, reemerging in “Late” Gen X (who were born between 1973 and 1980) before falling.
A decline in mental health was observed among white Americans at least.
Depression and anxiety were estimated by asking participants about symptoms in the previous month. In general, Zheng’s team found, both conditions were increasing rapidly among white adults, ahead of the baby boomer.
Among Black and Hispanic Americans, however, rates of depression and anxiety began to accelerate, although physical health measures declined.
It was surprising, Zheng said, and there is no clear explanation.
Miller stated that this may be related to the limited ways in which depression and anxiety were anticipated. He also said that research has shown an increasing rate of suicidal behavior among Black adolescents in recent years.
According to Miller, all of the trends seen in this study – worsening substance abuse and physical and mental health – may have common roots.
Job insecurity, worry about paying rent and putting food on the table, loneliness and isolation, lack of affordable health care and systemic racism can all be factors.
“These are fundamentally structural issues,” Miller said. “If you give people a job with a payable salary, it will have a profound impact on their physical and mental health.”
This raises the question of how the epidemic and its economic and social collapse will ultimately affect the well-being of many generations.
In a study last year, the Well Being Trust estimated that the US could see an additional 75,000 deaths of pandemics related to the pandemic.
Sources: Hui Zheng, PhD, Associate Professor, Sociology, Ohio State University, Columbus; Benjamin Miller, PsyD, Chief Strategy Officer, Welling Trust, Oakland, California; American Journal of Epidemiology, March 18, 2021, online
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