‘Oatmeal eating’ baby boomers less likely to have strokes

    24 November 2016

    People born between 1972 and 1981 (those at the tail end of Generation X) have a higher risk of stroke compared to previous generations, according to new research.

    Baby boomers — those born between 1945 and 1954 — have the lowest risk of any generation. Their stroke rate has fallen by almost 20 per cent compared to earlier generations.

    The researchers analysed more than 225,000 medical records. They found that the rate of ischaemic strokes, which are caused by blood clots, doubled in people between the ages of 35 and 44 in the 15 years to 2014. That is, people in that age group had twice as many strokes as earlier generations at that age.

    The study’s lead author, Joel Swerdel, said: ‘People, especially those under 50, need to realise that stroke does not just occur in the old, and the outcome can be much more debilitating than a heart attack — leaving you living for another 30 to 50 years with a physical disability.

    ‘In the golden generation, obesity was less common than in people born earlier or later. Diabetes has been on a continuous upswing over the last 40 years and is particularly seen in the youngest generations. Smoking had decreased rapidly by the golden generation but has been increasing lately.

    ‘Younger generations are also less likely to take blood pressure or lipid-lowering medication as prescribed.’

    Swerdel blamed bad eating habits in childhood for the change. He told the Daily Mail: ‘While someone born in 1945 might have eaten oatmeal or eggs for breakfast as a child, younger generations are more likely to eat sugared cereals.’

    Instant analysis
    With increasing obesity and diabetes rates, it wouldn’t be surprising for stroke rates to be increasing in younger people, which this study based on hospital data in New Jersey suggests.

    Important limitations to consider here are the developments in diagnostic investigations which may have affected this. What this study does not demonstrate is an indication of the reason for this change, and suggestions that it is due to a generational drop in egg/porridge consumption at breakfast in favour of sugary cereals seems to be based on speculation.
    Research score: 3/5