According to a report released by the Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Association as part of its Health Index, millennials – the generation born between the early 1980s and approximately the mid-1990s – are facing unprecedented levels of mental and physical illness.
The report, which was published in Blue Cross Blue Shield’s website, noted that not only did 54 percent of millennials reported having been diagnosed with at least one chronic illness, they are also experiencing double-digit increases in the prevalence of eight out of 10 health conditions – a far greater number than what the previous generation experienced at the same age range.
The report further noted that of the top 10 health problems affecting millennials, six are behavioral and mental health conditions, namely major depression, psychotic conditions, substance/alcohol/tobacco use disorders and hyperactivity. Four, on the other hand, are physical in nature: hypertension, high cholesterol, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and Type 2 diabetes.
The report added that a “vast majority” or 85 percent of millennials currently diagnosed with depression are also living with at least one other health condition.
The BCBS report also noted that women manifested 20 percent more adverse health effects than men.
In light of the release of the report and the BCBS’ announcement of its plan to implement “Millennial Health Listening Sessions,” which are meant to address issues in the healthcare system, nonprofit advocacy organization Children’s Health Defense (CHD) noted that a far better response would be to call out what it perceives to be the environmental factors that are “undoubtedly at the root of the several-decades-old children’s health crisis that is now unfurling into young adulthood.”
According to CHD, among the environmental factors they are looking at are the following: the continued presence of the broad-spectrum herbicide glyphosate in food, air and water; childhood vaccinations; excessive use of wireless technology among the youth; a predominantly sedentary lifestyle; and the continued consumption of overly processed food and beverages. (Related: Why the “healthy” life expectancy of Millennials is collapsing: Lack of exercise, horrible diets and bad posture.)
Fight chronic disease with a healthy lifestyle
Despite the negative findings however, it is still possible to rectify them through healthy lifestyle changes.
According to the book “Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries,” some of the changes that one can do are the following:
- Stop smoking — According to the book’s authors, the cessation of smoking is the single most important way to prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer. The use of smokeless tobacco should also be stopped according to the authors, as this could cause oral cancer in the long term.
- Maintain a healthy weight — Limit your consumption of sugary drinks and highly processed food. You can also avoid consuming unhealthy fats and excess carbohydrates by switching to healthier options.
- Make it a goal to be more physically active — Regular physical activity is a key element not just in weight control, but also in reducing your risk for conditions such as stroke, Type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, depression, osteoarthritis and erectile dysfunction.
- Eat a balanced diet — Diet plays an important role in overall health. Ensure your well-being by replacing saturated and trans fats with healthier, unsaturated fats. Eat more fatty fish, which can boost your omega-3 fatty acid levels. Eat more fruits and vegetables to ensure adequate folic acid intake. Moreover, only eat grains and cereals in their unprocessed, whole-grain form. Finally, limit your sugar and sodium intakes.
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