Trouble ahead: Obese, diabetic 50 somethings heading for bleak senior years

May 26, 2016
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ID-100314466

It’s not too late

ID-100314466

It’s not too late

Today’s middle-aged adults (50-64) are much fatter and more likely to have diabetes than their predecessors from 15 years ago. Obesity is up 25 percent, diabetes 55 percent and the percentage reporting being in very good or excellent health declined by 9 percent, according to the latest America’s Health Rankings Senior Report from the United Health Foundation.

At the state level, some of the changes were far more dramatic. Prevalence of diabetes among middle-aged Coloradans is up 138 percent, while obesity rates in Arizona are up by 96 percent.

The report warns that today’s middle-aged cohort is on track for an expensive and unhealthy experience when they hit the ranks of seniors by 2030.

The news isn’t all bleak. My home state of Massachusetts is rated the healthiest for seniors in the latest report (overtaking Vermont). Seniors here have become more physically active; many have stopped smoking. On the negative side the rate of flu vaccination dropped in Massachusetts. (Maybe it has something to do with the vaccine’s recent lack of effectiveness — I got the flu vaccine and the flu this past season.)

As usual, this year’s report is chock full of statistics and insights, with a variety of national indicators and state-by-state comparisons. And no surprise, the Southern states remain the unhealthiest –with Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Arkansas and West Virginia bringing up the rear.

It’s not too late for middle-aged Americans to improve their health and well-being. Reports like this may spur individuals, governments and private sector players into action. For the sake of seniors-to-be and the country as a whole, I sure hope it happens.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.