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Study: Gen Xers take ill-fated approach to long life

Ana Veciana-Suarez
Miami Herald

Being middle-aged, sandwiched between the much-lauded millennials and the much-attacked baby boomers, is far from an ideal place on the demographic scale.

Now a new report says that Generation Xers, those between the ages of 36 and 51, don’t do enough to keep healthy, even as they claim they want to live to a ripe old age.

According to an MDVIP survey:

One in three don’t go to the doctor out of fear of finding something wrong.

■ Slightly half, 55 percent, of Gen Xers have had an annual physical exam in the past five years. That’s compared to 72 percent of boomers.

■ Two out of three Gen Xers admit they could be do more about exercising regularly (67 percent), eating well (66 percent), maintaining a healthy weight (63 percent) and managing stress (66 percent).

■ Only 40 percent of Gen Xers — versus 55 percent of boomers — are getting the recommended screening tests for timely disease detection. This despite the fact that Gen Xers believe lifestyle choices play an equal (66 percent) or greater (20 percent) role than genetics in their health.

These figures are of particular interest at a time when the life expectancy for Americans has declined for the first time in 20 years. What’s more, almost half of adults suffer from at least one chronic health condition, some of which could be prevented or better controlled through lifestyle changes. These include hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.

MDVIP, a national network of more than 900 primary care physicians focused on prevention and personalized healthcare, teamed up with Ipsos Public Affairs to survey Gen Xers and baby boomers about their health habits and expectations of aging. The report also found that Gen Xers worry more than boomers about certain issues of aging. For example, 19 percent of Gen Xers worry about loneliness in old age versus 15 percent of boomers, and more Gen Xers are also concerned about having enough money to cover health expenses during retirement and the quality of healthcare in the next 10 years.

“The MDVIP survey findings serve as a wake-up call for Gen Xers, who could be heading down a path to live shorter life spans with more chronic disease than the generations before them,” Dr. Andrea Klemes, chief medical officer of MDVIP, said in a statement. “The good news is that people in their 30s, 40s and early 50s can change the course of both their current and future health. Getting screened, understanding their risks and making even simple lifestyle changes today can have a significant impact on the quality and length of their lives.”