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Keywords:

  • ethanol abuse;
  • exercise;
  • tobacco use;
  • smoking;
  • occupation

Abstract

Background

As the US workforce ages, lifestyle factors will increasingly affect their health, yet little information is available on their prevalence in older working populations.

Methods

Using the nationally representative 1997–2003 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), reported current smoking, risky drinking and leisure-time physical activity behaviors of older workers (≥65 years) were compared with older non-workers. These behaviors were evaluated by age, gender, race, ethnicity, and occupation, as well as prototype “healthy” and “risky” persons.

Results

The study population of 4,946 older US workers and 38,313 older non-workers represented an estimated 3.9 million older workers and 28.9 million older non-workers annually. Relative to older non-workers, older workers reported more current smoking and risky drinking, but higher levels of leisure-time physical activity with variations by subpopulations.

Conclusions

Less than 4% of the older US worker population reported overall healthy behaviors. Certain occupations and other subpopulations can be targeted for age-appropriate behavioral interventions. Am. J. Ind. Med. 50:427–437, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.