Original Article

Intake of Key Chronic Disease Related Nutrients among Baby Boomers

Authors: Dana E. King, MD, MS, Jun Xiang, MS, Alexander Brown, MA


Objectives: The dietary habits of baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) undoubtedly will have a substantial impact on their future health; however, dietary information regarding the intake of key chronic disease–related nutrients is lacking for this generation. The objective of this study was to compare the dietary intake of key chronic disease–related nutrients of the baby boomer generation with the previous generation of middle-aged adults.

Methods: National cross-sectional study comparison analyzing data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) including NHANES III (1988–1994) and the NHANES for 2007–2010, focused on adult respondents ages 46 to 64 years who were not institutionalized at the time of each survey. The two cohorts were compared with regard to dietary intake of key nutritional components. The main outcome measures were intake of total calories, sodium, cholesterol, fat, fruits, vegetables, vitamin C, water, and fiber.

Results: The baby boomers’ average daily intake of nutrients exceeded that of the previous generation of middle-aged adults for total calories (2118/1999), total fat (82/76 g), sodium (3513/3291 mg), and cholesterol (294/262 g; all P < 0.001). The intake of vitamin C (105/89 g), water (1208/1001 g), and vegetables (199/229 g) was less than that of the previous generation ( P < 0.001), and the dietary intake of fruit and fiber was unchanged. In regression analyses, dietary changes remained significant after controlling for age, race, sex, and socioeconomic status (all P < 0.01).

Conclusions: The study findings document higher dietary intake of key chronic disease–related nutrients along with reduced vegetable intake among baby boomers compared with the previous generation of middle-aged adults. These findings are indicative of a diet that may contribute to increased rates of chronic disease among individuals in this age group.

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