Take one step in a grocery store, a quick scroll through your favorite social media platform, or even spend an hour watching TV and chances are you’ll notice the influx of health-related products nowadays. You may assume that these products are geared toward older generations since it is not uncommon for people to get more health conscious as they get older. However, new research is showing a growing trend on the opposite end of the spectrum, with more younger people becoming increasingly interested in their health than in generations before.
It appears millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) are paving the way for their younger counterparts. A 2018 study by the International Food Information Council found that millennials are more likely to prioritize health and wellness when making food choices than previous generations. The study found that 80% of millennials consider health benefits when selecting foods, compared to 64% of baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964). This also includes physical wellness, emotional wellness, and social wellness.
Additionally, a 2019 survey by the American Heart Association found that millennials are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors, such as regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet, than in previous generations.
Like millennials, Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2012), are more likely to prioritize eating healthy and getting regular exercise, however, they also prioritize their mental health and managing stress.
In a report released by the American Psychiatric Association, Gen Z was more likely to have received treatment or gone to therapy (37%) compared to Millennials (35%), Gen X’ers (26%), Baby Boomers (22%), and the Silent Generation (15%).
While this is a positive trend, you may be wondering why today’s younger generations are starting earlier. The reason for this trend is likely multifold, such as the increased awareness of the importance of physical fitness and healthy eating habits, greater access to information about health and wellness, and changing attitudes towards mental health as well as smoking, drug and alcohol use.
According to results from a survey of 2,000 adults in the US (split evenly from Gen Z to baby boomers), Gen Z was the most worried about their health preventing them from experiencing everything they’d like to do in life (75 percent, versus baby boomers at 63 percent).
Another reason may center around sustainability. Recent research from GlobeScan’s annual Healthy and Sustainable Living study has helped to provide a deeper understanding of how generations differ in their opinions, experiences and attitudes toward sustainability.
Designed in collaboration with a range of partners including CVS Health, IKEA, PepsiCo, Visa and WWF International, this study surveyed 27,000 people across 27 markets to explore their sentiments around healthier, sustainable lifestyles. One takeaway from the research is that globally, younger generations are more likely to feel ashamed ("very often" or "often") about living lifestyles that are unhealthy and are not environmentally friendly, compared to their older peers.
Additionally, younger generations are more aware of the impact their actions have on the environment and are therefore more willing to make changes to reduce their carbon footprint.
This may also support data from research firm Nielsen, which found that younger generations are more likely to buy organic and natural products, as well as products that are free from artificial colors and flavors.
Gen Z are the most likely generation to say they desire to change their lifestyles to be more healthy, environmentally friendly and helpful to others, followed by millennials.
Partner with a Primary Care Physician
If you feel compelled now to get a jumpstart on your health, but can’t remember the last time you made a trip to the doctor’s office, don’t worry; you’re not alone. Of the more than 860 million office visits recorded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2021, only about half of those visits were to a primary care physician. According to the DFWHC Foundation, about 72 percent of North Texas adults regularly see the doctor for a routine checkup.Outside of providing medical care for acute issues, like the flu you caught at your office or that time you sprained your ankle, Jessica Ngo, M.D., an internal medicine physician on the medical staff at Texas Health Dallas and Texas Health Internal Medicine, a Texas Health physicians group practice, says that seeing a primary care physician is about building a relationship with a provider you know and trust to have your best interests in mind.
So if you haven’t seen a primary care physician in a while, but you’re not ill, where can you start? Ngo says an annual physical or wellness check is a great first step, especially at the beginning of the year.
“The annual physical is a good time to review your health and address anything that may be falling through the cracks, such as immunizations, cancer screenings, and questions you may have forgotten at your last visit,” she explains. “It is also a good time to screen for medical issues early before they become a long-term chronic illness.”
With more than 460 primary care providers and over 360 specialists across 200-plus locations, Texas Health is dedicated to serving you and your family throughout a lifetime of changing medical needs. Find a Texas Health Family Care provider near you to get the ball rolling.