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Baby Boomers Face Heavy Arthritis Risk

Baby Boomers are still the generation in the spotlight, but here’s some attention they might prefer to do without. Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have found that Baby Boomers suffer from obesity-related arthritis more than the previous generation.

The study, which appeared in the September issue of the American Journal of Public Health, concluded that obesity rates grew substantially among Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964) compared with the “silent generation” (born 1926–1942). The rise in obesity also happened at a younger age among the Boomers. Data came from the U.S. Bureau of the Census and the National Center for Health Statistics. The researchers also looked at the 1980–2000 decennial censuses and the 1971–2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.

Arthritis cases linked to obesity rose from 3% to 18% between 1971 and 2002. Investigators attributed the rise to many factors, including the manner in which doctors have diagnosed arthritis over time; however, the rise in obesity cannot be ignored. “Baby Boomers are just approaching the age when arthritis rates begin to rise dramatically,” says Susan Leveille, PhD, senior author of the study. “Many . . . have lived with obesity for much of their lives. We can expect to see the health and functional consequences of this epidemic in the coming decades.”

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