Are Baby Boomers Aging Better
Than Their Predecessors?Trends in Overweight, Arthritis,
and Mobility Difficulty
Suzanne G. Leveille, Christina C. Wee, and Lisa I. Iezzoni
Several reports describe imminent profound demographic shifts with the aging of the post-World War II Baby Boom generation, persons born from 1946 through 1964 (Day 1993; Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 2003; Kinsella and Velkoff 2001). The elderly population in the United States is expected to double in the thirty years from 2000 to 2030 (Kinsella and Velkoff 2001). Better understanding of the health risk and health status trends of the aging Baby Boomers will enhance our preparations to meet the health care needs of this new generation of elders. The first of the Baby Boomers will reach age sixty-five in the year 2011. Preventing and postponing disability will continue to be important goals for maintaining health in old age for the Baby Boom generation. Although studies have shown declines in disability rates in the older population in recent decades (Freedman, Martin, and Schoeni 2002; Manton, Corder, and Stallard 1997; Manton and Gu 2001), worrisome health behavior trends across all ages in the United States ultimately may reverse the progress in reducing
Suzanne G. Leveille, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School,
and a Research Associate in the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Beth Israel
Deaconess Medical Center, Boston. Christina C. Wee, M.D., M.P.H., is Assistant Professor
of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and an Associate in Medicine in the Division of Gen-
eral Medicine and Primary Care, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston. Lisa I. Iez-
zoni, M.D., M.Sc, is Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Associate Direc-
tor, Institute for Health Policy, Massachusetts General Hospital.
We thank Mary Beth Hamel, M.D., for her valuable contribution. This work was sup-
ported by the Arthritis Foundation, the National Bureau of Economic Research with fund-
ing from the National Institute on Aging grants P30 AG12810 and R01 AG19805, and the
Mary Woodard Lasker Charitable Trust and Michael E. DeBakey Foundation.