Aetna “what’s your healthy?℠” survey provides insight into Americans’ diet, fitness, relationships and stress across generations
HARTFORD, Conn. — Results from a new study reveal that American adults of all ages – Millennials, GenXers and Baby Boomers – feel that their own generation is the healthiest. Nearly half the people surveyed (45 percent) named their own generation as the healthiest, followed by their parents’ generation (32 percent) and the younger generation (23 percent). The findings come from the Aetna “what’s your healthy?” study, a survey of 1,800 Americans ages 25-64 conducted online this spring by Harris Interactive.
The study is a part of Aetna’s “what’s your healthy?” national marketing and advertising campaign. The campaign includes an interactive website, www.WhatsYourHealthy.com, where people can share their unique definitions of what being healthy means to them.
Other generational differences include:
Almost twice as many Baby Boomers (23 percent), who are ages 49-64, define being healthy as getting recommended screenings or checkups, compared to both GenXers (ages 37-48) and Millennials (ages 25-36). A much higher percentage of Millennials define being healthy as having good eating habits (24 percent) and regular physical activity (22 percent), compared with the older generations.
Millennials are far more likely than other age groups to reach for alcohol when stressed – 37 percent agree that they often do so. Both GenXers and Millennials also tend to snack on unhealthy food when dealing with stress (48 percent and 51 percent) more frequently than Baby Boomers.
Baby Boomers are less self-conscious and look at the big picture. While about one-third of Millennials and GenXers want to look good in their underwear (35 percent and 32 percent), only 19 percent of Boomers consider this important. More than half of Baby Boomers (53 percent) would tell their younger selves not to “sweat the small stuff,” a higher rate than both GenXers (43 percent) and Millennials (36 percent).
“These survey results and the conversation we’ve started on the ‘what’s your healthy?’ website show that everybody has a different definition of being healthy,” said Robert Mead, senior vice president of Marketing, Product & Communications (MP&C) for Aetna. “We are committed to improving the health and well-being for all generations, and these insights are valuable as we build new tools and resources to help individuals and families achieve their unique health goals.”
Across the generations, Americans give themselves fairly high marks on health status considering their age, with an average score of 70.1 on a 0-100 scale. About a third of people (34 percent) say they’re living healthier today than five years ago. People that are living healthier today cited such factors as choosing “side salads instead of French fries” (47 percent of those living healthier today); dialing down alcohol consumption (37 percent); and adding tougher workouts (34 percent) as ways they are leading healthier lives.
Other key findings include:
Weighing Weight Loss
A large majority of people (67 percent) believe they need to lose a considerable amount of weight – a median of 25 pounds. At the same time, more than half (54 percent) of all Americans surveyed believe they can be overweight and still be healthy. Baby Boomers are more likely than Millennials to say that “healthy” is associated with being the right weight for body type and height. Men are happier than women with their current weight and women are more likely to want to lose weight.
The Healthy Gender Gap
In addition to their different views on weight, men are more likely than women to define healthiness in terms of a major fitness event or goal, like a marathon. Other gender differences include:
- Upcoming events such as reunions and weddings kick-start healthier living for women more than men.
- More dads (34 percent) than moms (22 percent) see parenthood as a path to a healthier life.
- Among men who say they live healthier today than 5 years ago, 49 percent report they’re drinking less alcohol now.
- Among women who say they live healthier today than 5 years ago, 36 percent report they’re caving in less to late-night sweet cravings.
Getting to the office in the morning doesn’t appear to be as stressful as actually being in the office all day. Only 11 percent of Americans cited driving as a major stressor. However, the workplace topped the list of most stressful places, with more than a quarter (27 percent) of Americans saying they experience the most stress at work, followed by spending time with extended family (12 percent) and their spouse/partner (11 percent).
While family is a major cause of stress, four-legged members of the family help bring people peace of mind. Nearly 7 in 10 people (69 percent) agree that having a cat or dog can help reduce stress.
Moms & Millennials Trust Social Media
Significantly higher percentages of Millennials and GenXers agree that connecting through social media has a positive impact on their health or well-being, find social media is a great way to share health and wellness info, and are inspired to live healthier by what they see on social media. In addition, a third (34 percent) of moms say that connecting with others on social media has a positive impact on their overall health and wellness, compared with a quarter (24 percent) of dads.
Results from the study will be featured on Meredith Corporation websites and publications such as Family Circle, Ladies’ Home Journal and Fitness.
The survey, commissioned by Aetna, was conducted online by Harris Interactive among a nationally representative sample of Americans ages 25-64. Fieldwork was conducted from April 8 through April 19, 2013, and resulted in 1,800 completed questionnaires. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.
Data from additional waves of the “what’s your healthy?” study will be released later this summer and fall.
Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving an estimated 44 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services, workers’ compensation administrative services and health information technology services. Aetna’s customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see www.aetna.com.
Aetna Media Contact: