My Generation’s Unhealthy?!

By Beth Piraino, MD

A study published this week showed that Baby Boomers have more diabetes and hypertension, which is very likely due to the increase in obesity and a decrease in exercise compared to the previous generation. Since diabetes and hypertension are by far the leading causes of kidney disease, this explains in large part the explosion of kidney disease in our population.

As a Baby Boomer myself, I found this concerning but unfortunately not surprising. I think about my mother who grew up on a farm and remained physically active into her 80’s with gardening and walking and an occasional visit to ‘Silver Sneakers.’ She weighed about the same at her death at 87 years at 123 pounds than when she was young. Because of hypertension she was careful to follow a low sodium diet and take her meds. An excellent cook, she never overate.

In contrast we Baby Boomers seem to be attached to our cars, driving everywhere, even when we could walk. Often cities are built in such a fashion to make it difficult to walk, or even dangerous. There may be no sidewalk or cross walks for busy highways. Bikes have to compete with large cars with the result that accidents in which bikers are hit by cars are not infrequent. It almost becomes a chore to exercise, with this to confined to gyms rather than a part of our daily life. Many of us frequently eat at restaurants or pick up fast food, most of it high in salt and calories with too big of servings. The increase in the size of plates is emblematic of this problem of portion size. I inherited a set of Christmas dishes from my mother-in-law, and when I bought four more to have a larger set, the new plates were 50% larger than the older plates.

The good news is that we smoke less, leading to less emphysema and heart disease. The decrease in smoking is related to a clear regulations about labeling cigarette packages with the dangers of smoking, prohibiting smoking in public places and use of tobacco money to inform the public of the negative consequences of smoking. Some such similar approach could be taken with salt and fat. Marking fast food and restaurant food with the sodium and fat and caloric content would be a start and has already been implemented in some parts of the country. There are apps for our smart phones that will help us monitor our food intake and our activity level. We can become as healthy as our parents and influence the generations to follow if we want to do so.

Dr. Beth Piraino is the President of the National Kidney Foundation

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This entry was posted in Diet & Nutrition, Fitness, Heart Health, Kidney Health and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to My Generation’s Unhealthy?!

  1. EPX Body says:

    When I turned 35 I found out I had high blood pressure. I had also been overweight for about 10yrs. I was very active in my teens and early 20’s and was very thin at that time. When I started having children I seemed to hold on to some of that weight each time after giving birth. I felt I didn’t have time to exercise having a full time job outside of the home then coming home and having to work being a mom and wife and taking care of the household duties, especially making dinner. I have 3 sons and all of them very active in sports growing up and of course I wasn’t going to miss a game so now there’s even less time to exercise. Now we add game practice, games and team mom most years to an already hectic schedule…lol. This is when lots of fast food nights came into play and even more weight gain. I see so many people my age everyday that are over weight! Even people that you’ve known all of your life that were thin forever are even becoming obese. What is really going on? What I’ve learned today is no matter what, find at least 20 to 30 mins a day to take care of you. Get that metabolism going and blood flowing with fast walking. That’s really an easy form of exercising. If you don’t take care of yourself then you might not be around to take care of the people you love. I’ve found out that exercise can be as simple as walking on a treadmill or just walking inside your home. Find a neighbor to walk with or your spouse if you want company. Try to eat healthy as much as possible and don’t deprive yourself. I’ve learned that portion control plays a very big part in being healthy. We all make excuses and I too see exercise as a chore and don’t like to do but it’s needed. Find something that gets your heart racing. I’ve tried lots of different forms of exercise and I finally chose walking. I’m actually starting to like it. It’s easy and I can do it from home. Take care everyone!

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