Millennials Show Improved Health, Well-Being Compared With Older Generations

Millennials are one of the few bright spots in American well-being. According to Gallup, millennials in the United States have a lower obesity rate compared with older generations, and millennials have actually seen their obesity rate go down since 2008.

Millennials are one of the few bright spots in American well-being. According to Gallup, millennials in the United States have a lower obesity rate (20.1%) compared with older generations (32.5%), and millennials have actually seen their obesity rate go down since 2008.

In addition, 19- to 35-year-olds have seen a slight reduction in diabetes compared with millennials in 2008. Among other adults, the rate of diabetes has continued to increase.

One possible reason why millennials have improved health statistics could be the growing emphasis on well-being embraced by employers. However, overall, Americans continue to have major well-being problems and millennials are very much the outlier.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that the obesity rate among adults is 28%, diabetes tops 11%, nearly 20% smoke, 40% experience daily stress, and almost half do not exercise for 30 minutes or more at least 3 days a week.

Millennials exercise more than non-millennials, Gallup found. America’s youngest working generation has increased exercise since 2008, while other generations reported virtually no change in the amount they exercise. In addition, millennials are the only generation that has not reported that significant daily stress has increased. Importantly, millennials’ stress rates are higher—which is consistent with past findings that significant daily stress decreases with age, according to Gallup—but the rate of change in stress has been flat from 2008 to 2015.

“The implications of these results are very real—and are significant for the US economy,” Gallup reported. “Adults who are overweight accumulate about $378 more per person each year in healthcare costs, while those who are obese cost an astonishing $1580 more per person each year.”

Adults who smoke cost an additional $2132 each year, adding another $92 billion each year in healthcare costs. Overweight and obese Americans who smoke add a total of $235 billion each year.

“Although the nation's youngest adults are historically the generation most likely to smoke, millennials—coupled with Gen Xers—have taken the lead in Americans' overall drop in smoking over the past several years,” reported Gallup. “The 2 youngest adult generations have reduced their respective smoking rates by more than 3 percentage points.”