The health of millennials

post by Michael_2358 · 2021-06-28T00:39:06.838Z · EA · GW · 0 comments

In the fall of 2019 Moody's and the U.S. health insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield put out a study (https://www.bcbs.com/sites/default/files/file-attachments/health-of-america-report/HOA-Moodys-Millennial-10-30.pdf) stating that the millennial generation was less physically and mentally healthy than prior generations were at the same age. I found this fascinating, and was surprised there was not more follow up. In fact, I thought the topic merited a book as a follow up, and I have even considered trying to pursue that project myself.

I think this relevant to EA for a couple reasons, but was most recently was reminded of it by this 80,000 Hours podcast [EA · GW]. If mental and physical health is deteriorating in younger generations, this is a serious societal issue that must be given sufficient attention. Specifically, I was stunned that even though the report did not attempt to determine the cause of the worsening health outcomes, it didn't even suggest a follow up plan to do so. 

Given the multi-decade rise in the incidence of chronic diseases like obesity, autoimmune conditions, allergies, and certain neurologic illnesses, it's reasonable to hypothesize that whatever is contributing to these maladies is also contributing to poorer millennial health. After all, millennials grew up in the 1980s and 1990s when these trends were just beginning. Given the increase in global consumption of processed foods that occurred at the same time, we must examine whether poor nutrition could be playing a role here. Interestingly, this is not a potential cause the study considers when it mentions possible causes at the end.

If we want our own children to live the most productive lives possible, it is essential that this question be addressed thoroughly. I don't have a public health research background, but if anyone is interested in collaborating with me on this topic, I would be interested in discussing possibilities. I am not sure I have the self-motivation or expertise to accomplish a project like this on my own.  

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