Only one in six ‘baby boomers’ is retiring in good health, with most succombing to a range of conditions and diseases including high cholesterol, osteoporosis or cancer, a study has found.
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By Stephen Adams, Medical Correspondent
10:00PM BST 19 Sep 2012
Even though today’s 60-somethings have benefited from the NHS and welfare state pretty much from birth, most still have at least one health problem, say Government scientists.
They found the average baby boomer – referring to those born in the years just after the Second World War – has two medical conditions.
Just over half have high blood pressure, a third are obese, and a quarter have high cholesterol.
A quarter have Type 2 diabetes or ‘pre-diabetes’, meaning they are on the cusp of fully developing the condition.
Almost one in five suffer from a mental health problem, while 12 per cent have chronic lung or throat disease.
Eleven per cent have cancer, the same proportion that has osteoporosis. In addition, 11 per cent have suffered from cardiovascular disease such as a heart attack, stroke or heart failure.
One in six have three or more health problems.
The results are from a study of 2,661 people born in 1946, from every walk of life, whose health has been followed from birth. For this, the latest study, they were assessed between 60 and 64 years of age for 15 conditions.
The study found the origins of poor health in one’s 60s could usually be traced back to early middle age.
Dr Mary Pierce, of the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing, the GP who led the report, 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 baby boomers.”
Professor Diana Kuh, director of the unit, said some of the conditions shared “common root causes related to poor diet and inactive lifestyles”.
They argued GPs would become more and more stretched as the baby boomer generation aged, with Dr Pierce saying it made “a compelling case to invest in primary care to ease the burden on an already stretched service”.
Writing in the report, published in the journal PLoS One, she warned: “The health of the baby boomers as they age will dominate the work of the health and social care systems for the next three decade.”