Plenty of Australians may believe health insurance is something that can wait until they have reached their golden years. However, new research from the University of Adelaide shows the younger generation of Australians have higher levels of certain health conditions than older generations at the same age.
The study, which was published in the PLOS One journal, saw researchers compare the health of both a sample of Australians from Generation X (born 1966 to 1980) and Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1965) during the age range of 25 to 44 years.
Interestingly, the researchers found that despite minimal difference in physical activities of Gen X and Baby Boomer participants from age 25 to 44, Gen X had a significantly lower level of self-rated health, as well as higher levels of obesity and diabetes.
Researchers used data from the 1989/1990 and 2007/2008 National Health Survey to compare the two generations.
Gen Xers presented a much higher rate of obesity and diabetes than Baby Boomers between the ages of 25 to 44, with Gen X men displaying almost double the rate of obesity than male Baby Boomers. The research showed Baby Boomers at the same age showed significantly lower levels of ill health in both these areas.
According to one of the study's co-authors, Rhiannon Pilkington, who is a PhD student at the university and a member of the School of Medicine's Population Research and Outcome Studies group, the study shows that Australians are increasingly suffering from ill health at younger ages.
"This study adds to the growing evidence world wide suggesting that each younger generation is developing obesity and related chronic health conditions earlier in life", Ms Pilkington stated.
So while the older generation may be at higher risk of other degenerative or age-related health issues, younger Australians should be aware that overall health levels in their age segment are declining when compared to those older than them.
Such information indicates a need for Australians to reassess their lifestyle and overall wellbeing, instead of relying on young age to keep them safe from ill health.
To combat obesity, a healthy, balanced diet is key, combined with regular physical activity and exercise.
If you're from Gen X, it may be worth taking another look at how 'healthy' your lifestyle really is. The same goes for all Australians – although your body may appear invincible at a young age, studies such as this prove your age isn't enough to protect you.
After you have taken the time to take a look at your overall health habits, it's a wise idea to consider investing in health insurance in order to be prepared for a less-than-perfect score at your next GP checkup.