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Type: Thesis
Title: Baby Boomers and Generation X in Australia: health differences and the influence of work and workplace, with a focus on obesity.
Author: Pilkington, Rhiannon Megan
Issue Date: 2014
School/Discipline: School of Medicine
Abstract: The increase in obesity prevalence seen in Australia since the 1970s and the rise in comorbid chronic conditions –particularly diabetes, pose a significant problem for society and government in terms of consequences for government spending on health, workforce participation, economic growth and quality of life. Baby Boomers, born from 1946 to 1965 and Generation Xers born from 1966 to 1980 together form over half of Australia’s total population and nearly 75% of the working population. Their continued health into older age is essential if the nation is to cope with the quadrupling of the 85 plus population by 2050. This research explores generational differences in health status and the influence of work and workplace on health, irrespective of age. The aim of this is to highlight risk factors for the development of obesity and comorbid conditions, as well as specific groups that can be targeted by programs and policies to improve the health of Australia’s population. Using National Australian data, in Chapter 6 we explore the sociodemographic and health profile of Baby Boomers in 1989/90 and Generation X in 2007/08, in order to determine differences when the generations were of the same age of 25 to 44 years. This study illustrates that while Generation X are higher educated and have lower levels of smoking, they are also developing obesity and a higher prevalence of diabetes at an earlier age than their predecessors, and this may be reflected in their self-reported health status. Chapter 7 explores generational differences in the association between job strain, occupation, psychological distress and the risk of overweight and obesity as defined by high waist circumference. Using data from two community based Adelaide cohort studies, this study provides evidence that for Generation Xers, work-related stress, occupation and psychological distress have significant relationships with unhealthy weight. The reasons for these generational differences require further exploration although it may reflect differing values, perceptions or lifecourse effects. Chapter 8 examines the relationship between changes in employment status over time and the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, depression, arthritis and obesity (BMI ≥ 30) with and without comorbidities at follow up. Generation X is compared to early (born 1946 to 1955) and late (born 1966 to 1980) Baby Boomers using data from a biomedical cohort study based in the North West suburbs of Adelaide, South Australia. Remaining unemployed and becoming unemployed is associated with the presence of chronic conditions. No generational differences were demonstrated in adjusted analyses. These studies have identified that the younger generation is developing obesity and diabetes earlier in the lifecourse, highlighted generational differences in the relationship between work related factors and obesity and demonstrated that workforce exit and unemployment is related to the presence of obesity and common comorbidities. These findings have significant implications for healthy ageing, workforce participation, healthcare utilisation and costs into the future.
Advisor: Taylor, Anne Winifred
Wittert, Gary Allen
Hugo, Graeme John
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Medicine, 2014
Keywords: Baby Boomers; Generation X; obesity; work
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