The latest news from the health research community this week is shocking: we could soon see a trend in which baby boomers outlive their children. The reason? Americans are getting fat at an increasingly earlier age, and that means they’ll have poorer health and shorter lives.
This according to a new study by the University of Michigan Health System. Here are the sad facts:
20% of people born between 1966 and 1985 were obese by ages 20-29. Their parents didn’t reach that level of obesity until they were in their 30s. Their grandparents didn’t reach the 20% mark until their 40s or 50s.
I don’t have to tell you that this is a trend in the wrong direction. Recent research shows obesity rates have tripled among U.S. children. Obese children most likely become obese adults. That means higher rates of diabetes, heart problems and chronic disease. And boomers, that means there’s a growing chance you’re going to be around longer than your kids.
The study was published in the International Journal of Obesity, and researchers say they need more time to really study how this trend will affect life expectancy and obesity-related disease. But it seems to me the writing is on the wall and we bohemian boomer parents must do something about it.
What can we do? We’re already setting a good example by staying active and health-conscious into our 40s, 50s and 60s. But it’s clearly not enough to be a good role model; we need to include our kids in our activities and encourage them to follow our healthy lifestyle for both diet and exercise. If they’re at home, get them to at least try some of the healthy dishes you make for yourself – they may actually acquire a taste for them. If they’ve left the nest, invite them along for hiking, biking…even a brisk walk in the park.
Am I saying that just when we’re nearing the end of hands-on parenting, we’ve got to back up and start nagging again? Maybe; maybe not – it all depends on how you approach this. But here’s how I look at it: I will do whatever it takes to ensure that my daughter picks out my tombstone – not the other way around.