Most baby boomers 'under the doctor' at retirement

September 21, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—The vast majority of the post-war baby boomers have had at least one medical condition requiring regular GP visits in the run-up to retirement, and just one in six was completely condition free, according to the latest findings from the UK's oldest birth cohort. Diseases affecting more than 10 per cent of those studied included cancer, osteoporosis, chronic respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease.

New research from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development looked at the prevalence of 15 common clinical disorders including heart disease, , obesity, diabetes, cancer and osteoporosis, in a group of 2,661 men and women aged 60-64. It is the first study of its kind in the generation born immediately after (the so-called baby boomers), who were the first to grow up in the welfare state.

It found that the average baby boomer had two medical conditions at retirement age, the most common being hypertension (half of participants), obesity (a third), (a quarter) and diabetes or 'pre-diabetes' (also a quarter).

One in five had a number of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, and these individuals were twice as likely as others to have been in poor health at age 36.

The authors say the findings, published in the journal , could have important implications for the health and social services, which are likely to see increasing demands from an in the coming decades. The proportion of the population over the age of 65 is expected to rise by a third from 11.8m in 2008 to 15.6m by 2033.

Lead author Dr Mary Pierce from the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing, who is also a practising GP, said:

"The babies born in the post-war period were the first generation to enjoy the lifelong benefits of the NHS and the welfare state, and have an extended life expectancy. We might, therefore, expect this generation to be in pretty good health at retirement age. But our research shows that medical conditions – some of which could lead to serious disability or even death – are common among .

"The impact on the health service is likely to escalate, with GPs being increasingly called on to deliver preventative care as part of the public health agenda, in addition to fulfilling their usual reactive role. The effects are already being seen in some areas, with patient consultation rates up 40 per cent in England and Wales over the past decade. This makes for a compelling case to invest in primary care to ease the burden on an already-stretched service."

Professor Diana Kuh, Director of the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing, said:

"The latest results from this large, representative population study suggest that the proportion of the population 'under the doctor' will only increase in the coming years. Some of the most common conditions in our study – cardio-metabolic disorders, cancers and osteoporosis – share common root causes related to poor diet and inactive lifestyles.

"The good news is that the risk of developing these conditions can be reduced by making simple lifestyle changes at a young age. By targeting the most at-risk individuals early on in life – before they reach middle age – we may be able to reduce the pressure on the health service and, more importantly, save lives."

The National Survey of Health and Development follows a group of individuals born in one week in 1946. For this study, participants reported medical conditions that had been diagnosed by a doctor and most also underwent a physical examination. The results were compared with their health as assessed at the of 36.

The study looked at the extent of clinical disorders where there is evidence or a consensus for medical intervention rather than the full extent of problems in this cohort at (conditions such as arthritis were not included).

Explore further: Overweight baby girls at increased risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes in adulthood

More information: 'Clinical disorders in a post war British cohort reaching retirement: evidence from the first national birth cohort study' by Pierce et al is published in PLoS One.

Related Stories

Overweight baby girls at increased risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes in adulthood

March 29, 2012
Heavier female babies are more likely to develop diabetes and related metabolic risks when they grow up compared with their male counterparts, according to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's ...

Health gap has grown among young US adults, study finds

December 1, 2011
Levels of health disparity have increased substantially for people born in the United States after 1980, according to new research.

High respiratory burden found in ageing population

September 4, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—People aged 85 years and over have a high burden of respiratory disease, according to new findings from Newcastle University. The research has shed light on the health problems likely to be encountered ...

Recommended for you

Breathing dirty air may harm kidneys, study finds

September 21, 2017
Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to ...

Excess dietary manganese promotes staph heart infection

September 21, 2017
Too much dietary manganese—an essential trace mineral found in leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts—promotes infection of the heart by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus ("staph").

Being active saves lives whether a gym workout, walking to work or washing the floor

September 21, 2017
Physical activity of any kind can prevent heart disease and death, says a large international study involving more than 130,000 people from 17 countries published this week in The Lancet.

Frequent blood donations safe for some, but not all

September 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks—but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

Higher manganese levels in children correlate with lower IQ scores, study finds

September 21, 2017
A study led by environmental health researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine finds that children in East Liverpool, Ohio with higher levels of Manganese (Mn) had lower IQ scores. The research appears ...

One e-cigarette with nicotine leads to adrenaline changes in nonsmokers' hearts

September 20, 2017
A new UCLA study found that healthy nonsmokers experienced increased adrenaline levels in their heart after one electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) with nicotine but there were no increased adrenaline levels when the study ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.