Aging Boomers Offer Opportunities for Foods that Increase Stamina, Strength and Long Life

The Baby Boomers—the people who made their parents' lives miserable and then proceeded to wreck their children's lives—aren't done influencing the way Americans eat, drink and make merry. New research commissioned by Fonterra Nutrition suggests protein shakes at breakfast will be all the rage as America's can-do boomers march, limp and hobble their way into retirement.

The research suggests three out of five boomers are at least open to the idea of making diet and lifestyle changes if those changes help keep them healthy and active in their dotage. Conversely, only a quarter of boomers are committed couch spuds, unwilling to make lifestyle changes in exchange for health benefits.

The can-do segment of people born between 1946 and 1964 are subdivided by Fonterra into Active Seekers (16 percent of all boomers), Health Seekers (22 percent) and Open-Minded Moderates (20 percent). All three are aware of the connection between healthy eating, physical activity and long-term health, but their commitment to change varies. Three fifths of each segment are women. The U.S. boasts the highest proportion of Active Seekers, the well-educated and most affluent boomers who currently are the most active.

Osteoporosis and arthritis aren't as big a deal for American boomers compared to their counterparts in other parts of the world. Instead, weight management is the big concern, not surprising in a country where a third of all adults are classified as obese. US boomers also are one third more likely to take supplements than boomers worldwide.

Considering New Zealand-based Fonterra's prominence in dairy production, in particular milk powders and fractions, the study's conclusion that higher protein products are a can't-miss opportunity is not surprising and more than a little self serving. The calculation of the size of this healthy eating gang of aging boomers also is a little suspect: 57.2 million, which would require a geezer base of almost 99 million. Nonetheless, the world has never encountered a generation as noisy and my-way-or-the-highway oriented as the boomers, so food products that hint at eternal life would seem like a can't-miss opportunity in the coming decade.