News story

Health of the ‘baby boomer’ generation

Report on the health of people that are currently 50 to 70 years of age: a generation often called the ‘baby boomers’.

Man and women exercising

In her annual report on the state of the public’s health, ‘Baby Boomers: Fit for the Future’, Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer for England, focuses on the health of people aged between 50 and 70.

It considers topics such as the impact of lifestyle choices on current and future health, mental health, sexual health, and screening and immunisation programmes.

Professor Sally Davies said:

People are living longer than ever and so retirement presents a real opportunity for baby boomers to be more active than ever before. For many people it is a chance to take on new challenges, it is certainly not the start of a slower pace of life it once was.

Staying in work, volunteering or joining a community group can make sure people stay physically and mentally active for longer. The health benefits of this cannot be overestimated.

CMO outlines the opportunities baby boomers have to improve their health: 45% of the disease burden in this age group is attributable to lifestyle choices (for example, poor diet, smoking, being overweight)

By 2020 estimates show that a third of British workers will be aged over 50.

More than 75% of people aged between 50 and pension age are still in active employment, 12% of those older than pension age are also still working.

More women now work too: women now represent 46% of the workforce compared with 30%.

Findings from the report include:

Health and work

The report finds that good quality work is good for baby boomers’ health and that employers have a role to play by helping their staff to remain healthy enough to stay in employment

We’re currently seeking views on how the government can help everyone to be able to enjoy the independence, security and good health that being in work can bring.

Mental health

The mental health needs of baby boomers are substantial in many respects, with 18% reported to have depression or anxiety disorder. This is twice the proportion in the generation born before 1945. Men around the age of 50 have the highest suicide rate of all age groups.

Sexual health

Baby boomers are sexually active but some are experiencing problems with sexual function. Health professionals can give advice.

Published 8 December 2016