In today’s health-conscious world, smoothie bowls, avocado toasts, yoga studios, and meditation apps are more than just passing trends—they’ve become symbols of a generation’s pursuit for wellness.
Yet, beneath the veneer of these lifestyle choices, the health status of Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) paints a rather disconcerting picture.
The Millennial Health Paradox
According to a recent study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, we find ourselves amidst a somewhat paradoxical health crisis. Millennials, despite being in what should be the prime years of their lives, are facing significant health challenges at an escalating rate.
As the largest living generation in the U.S., with 73 million members, the implications of this phenomenon reach far beyond individual health, potentially impacting the broader healthcare system and the economy at large.
A Deeper Look into the Health of Millennials
The BCBS Health Index, a comprehensive measure of health, marks the millennial generation’s average health score at 95.1. This score suggests that millennials are living at about 95% of their optimal health.
While that might not sound so bad, a deeper analysis reveals a disturbing trend—older millennials (age 34-36) have higher prevalence rates for nearly all of the top 10 conditions than did Generation X members when they were in the same age range.
Top Health Conditions Affecting Millennials
The top ten conditions affecting millennials, as ranked by adverse health impact, paint a vivid picture of the health challenges this generation is grappling with:
- Major depression
- Substance use disorder
- Alcohol use disorder
- Psychotic conditions
- Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
- High cholesterol
- Tobacco use disorder
- Type 2 diabetes
These conditions, although common in older generations, are manifesting in millennials at a worrying pace, with the decline in health typically starting at the age of 27.
The Health Gender Gap: Millennial Women vs Men
Interestingly, the study points out a gender gap in millennial health. The total adverse health for millennial women is 20% larger than for men.
This disparity is primarily driven by major depression, type II diabetes, and other endocrine conditions.
Implications and Strategies for the Future
The worsening health status of millennials has profound implications for the American economy in the coming decades, including potential impacts on workplace productivity and healthcare costs.
At an individual level, understanding these trends can empower millennials to take charge of their health. It highlights the importance of regular health checkups, fostering a balanced lifestyle, and seeking timely medical help for mental health concerns.
The health of millennials is more than a generational concern. It’s a concern that we all need to address together as a community. It’s not just about improving their health, but about creating a healthier, more sustainable future for all.