Nearly 73 million people in the U.S. are millennials—people born between 1981 and 1996 and who were 21 to 36 years old in 2017.
According to the BCBS Health Index, in 2017, millennials had an average health index of 95.1, meaning millennials as a group were living at about 95% of their optimal health.
However, further data analysis reveals that older millennials, age 34 to 36 years, have higher prevalence rates for nearly all of the top 10 conditions than did Generation X members when they were in the same age range.
With younger generations facing health challenges at earlier ages than previous generations, measuring the health of millennials is critical to improving this generation’s long-term health and wellness.
Insights from the health index show that the major decline in health, on average, begins at age 27. This report examines the overall health of the millennial generation, which will soon be the largest generation of Americans in the workforce.
Health conditions impacting millennials
BCBS Health Index data indicate the top 10 conditions impacting millennials. The prevalence rates for nearly all of the top 10 conditions increased from 2014 to 2017. When compared to the national population, millennials were more affected by behavioral health conditions. Major depression, hyperactivity, and type 2 diabetes had the largest growth in prevalence for millennials during that time span.
To understand if millennials are less healthy than previous generations, this report compared like age groups of Gen Xers who were ages 34 to 36 in 2014 with millennials who were ages 34 to 36 in 2017.
To better understand and compare the health conditions impacting millennials and Gen Xers when they were the same age, four aggregate condition groups were created: behavioral health, cardiovascular, endocrine and other physical conditions.
Millennials had 11% more total adverse health across these condition groupings than did Gen Xers when they were the same age. This increase was driven by a 21% increase in cardiovascular conditions and a 15% increase in endocrine conditions, including diabetes. Behavioral health conditions explain about 40% of adverse health for both millennials and Gen Xers.
In addition, older millennials ages 34 to 36 living in western states tend to be healthier and have a higher health index, while those living in the northeast and portions of the southern states have a lower health index.