If you were to grab your smartphone right now and open Instagram, what would you see? An entire feed of young, seemingly healthy millennials either working out, meditating or snacking on avocado toast – ok, maybe the toast was an exaggeration, but, you get the idea. These Instagram-worthy images have only added fuel to the idea that millennials are the spark that ignited the much-needed push for the movement toward better health and wellness. But, a new study recently released by Blue Cross Blue Shield has found that millennials might not actually be as healthy as we think.

Before we dive into the results, there are a couple of key terms we should define: Gen X and Millennials (Gen Y). While you may find differing age ranges online, as it pertains to the study, millennials, or Gen Y, were defined as people born between the years 1981 and 1996. Gen X (Gen Xers) includes people born between 1965 and 1979.

There are currently 73 million millennials in the U.S. The study examined the overall health and wellness of 55 million American millennials who are commercially insured. As part of a series through the collaboration between Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and Blue Health Intelligence (BHI), the results were curated from BHI’s database to uncover key trends and insights. Here are some of the standout findings:

  1. 83% of millennials consider themselves in good or excellent health, yet the prevalence of the top 10 health issues increased between 2014 to 2017. Six are related to behavioral health and four are related to physical health.
  2. Out of the top 10 health issues, between 2014 to 2017, a significant increase in prevalence was found in cases of major depression (31%), hyperactivity (29%) and type 2 diabetes (22%).
  3. When compared to the national population, millennials were more affected by behavioral health conditions.
  4. Millennials are less healthy than Gen Xers when they were the same age.

Why This Matters –

As healthcare brands go digital, creating content for and with the influencers we prominently see within the health and wellness space, it’s important to keep in mind that health goes beyond a picture or quirky caption. Not that a photo of your favorite yoga instructor doing a pose you’ve only seen in movies isn’t awe-inspiring, it doesn’t mean much if we’re not taking care of the person in front of the camera.

“The health status of millennials will likely have substantial effects on the American economy over the next two decades – including workplace productivity and healthcare costs,” according to the study.

How can we as healthcare marketers, medical professionals, and digital consumers find ways to more effectively take care of a generation at risk? While you may not see your Instagram feed changing any time soon, you may want to ditch that photo of your breakfast for this food for thought.

About the Author:

Khye Tucker is an Innovation Strategist in Columbus, OH. With a passion for writing and a background in communications, Khye strives to bring brand stories to life through a fresh perspective, innovative thinking and creative storytelling.