“Telling it like it is,” was sports journalist Howard Cosell’s mantra, which he preached to the baby boomer generation that joined him in making Monday Night Football a national party night. In the spirit of “telling it like it is,” this is what the numbers now say say about the baby boomer generation: Medicare (which baby boomers are signing up for in record numbers to avoid soaring health care costs) is projected to spend 72 percent more for the remaining lifetime of a typical 65-year-old in 2030 than a 65-year-old in 2010. Obesity is a major reason why. Almost twice as many baby boomers will suffer from obesity in 2030 compared to 2010.
Reducing the national debt and government fiscal responsibility is a major baby boomer focus. Yet Social Security and Medicare now represent two-thirds of the annual federal budget. Medicare alone equals about 25 percent of all government spending. The “tell like it is” numbers are squarely pointing the finger at the boomer generation as the cause of spiraling government expenditures. Their lifestyle, and its unintended weight-related health consequences, is the greatest threat to our country’s ability to balance its budget and the future prosperity of our children and grandchildren.
The baby-boomer weight crisis
Today 72 percent of boomer men and 67 percent of boomer women are overweight or obese. By 2030, this generation will experience almost double the incident of having all three chronic conditions of hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. These three chronic health conditions are tied to this generation’s weight gain. The boomer generation is in a weight crisis that is about to go over the health care cliff.
Baby-boomer health care is creating a national financial crisis
The baby-boomer weight crisis is rapidly moving past their burden of buying plus-size clothing. Modern medicine will keep them alive longer than previous generations even with their increased need for care due to their weight gain. Their increased health care cost will push America into a debt crisis. One driver will be paying for extended medical care to medicate the life choices made by the boomer generation. The second driver will be the increased gross amounts the boomer generation will be paid from Social Security by living longer.
Here’s “the tell it like it is” projection for Medicare costs. Medicare spending is projected to grow four times faster between now and 2024 than it grew between 2010 and 2014. Medicare spending is projected to grow almost a full percentage faster than our country’s economy.
The boomer generation’s lifetime of weight-gaining choices will force the millennial generation to pay higher taxes to sustain government spending. This tax burden will be a significant negative factor in terms of economic growth and a burden on the millennial generation’s ability to realize their American Dream.
What millennials must do to preserve their future
The numbers are stark. For the next 30 years, it is not enough for the millennial generation to adopt sustainable best practices. Their actions will push our national policy and economy toward sustained economic growth, improved human health and environmental sustainability. But to actually realize these results will require boomer generation engagement.
This is because the boomer generation continues to be large in numbers with behaviors that are still too unsustainable. The reality is that sustainability for our economy, human health and environment cannot be achieved without boomer generation engagement. What every millennial must do is engage the boomer generation to help them adopt sustainable life choices.
It can be done. My millennial generation kids did it for me. But it was not easy. We boomers are very sure of ourselves and self-focused. Appreciating how hard it will be for my generation to change, I wrote “The Boomer Generation Diet Book.”
Market researchers define the boomer generation as the “have it all” generation. The Boomer Generation Diet explains, in their terms, how they can lose weight, have fun and live more+. Here’s what Jen Boynton, editor in chief of TriplePundit, says about the book:
“Written in Bill Roth’s lovable, relatable tone, ‘The Boomer Generation Diet’ is a must-read for any boomer who is looking to jumpstart their health and have fun at the same time. I hope my parents read it!”
Millennials, you have tried taking them to Chipotle. You have tried lecturing them about not drinking Diet Coke. Keep trying, but consider giving them a book written for them by one of them. It will open their eyes, and hopefully their hearts, before it is too late for them and for you.
Image credit: Bill Roth