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Study shows increase in health disparities among young Americans

New research offers additional insights into health disparities in the United States. Findings published this month in the American Sociological Review show the gap between the least and most healthy has significantly increased among Americans born after 1980 and that health disparity tends to increase as people move into middle age, before declining as people reach old age.

In the study, researchers analyzed data collected during the U.S. National Health Interview Survey between 1984 and 2007. Approximately 30,000 people are included in the study each year. Health Day reports:

Among those born early in the 20th century and on through the "baby boom" years (1946-1964), health disparities among generations continuously declined in the United States. But the health gap increased for post-baby boomers, especially those born after 1980... The study also found that health disparity trends tend to increase as people move into middle age, and then decline as they reach old age.

The findings suggest that the disparity between the least healthy and most healthy people will increase for the next one or even two decades as younger generations grow older and replace previous generations, according to lead study author Hui Zheng, an assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State University.

Researchers offered several explanations as to why the health gap among young adults has grown including the growing obesity epidemic and increases in income inequality over the past three decades.

Previously: Hopkins researchers find place, rather than race, may be greater determinant of health and Being healthy out of financial reach for some families

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