Living with diabetes blog

Generational influence and controlling impulses

By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. and Peggy Moreland, R.N. November 17, 2011

I'm a baby boomer, and a significant number of people in my generation have type 2 diabetes. As we've discussed before, here, lifestyle choices — along with age and heredity — can be predisposing factors for developing type 2 diabetes. Might the generation in which you grew up have a major impact on your chances of developing type 2 diabetes? Let's take a brief look at general descriptions of a few generations.

  • Veterans. Those who grew up between 1925 and 1945 are noted as generally being respectful of authority, hardworking, conservative, supportive of hierarchy and disciplined.
  • Baby boomers. Individuals born between 1946 and 1964 are said to value individualism, express creativity, be somewhat egocentric and have a strong work ethic. Television also heavily influenced this generation.
  • Generation X. Those who grew up between 1965 and 1980 generally value self-reliance and a balance between work and a personal life. They are less loyal to corporate culture. They were often latch-key children and have experienced a lifetime of exposure to multiple technologies such as video games, cell phones and computers.
  • Generation Y (or millennials). This generation grew up between 1980 and 2000. They were raised in structured, safe, multicultural environments and are accustomed to instantaneous technologies.

The baby boomer generation is known to be a bit self-centered, and subsequent generations have gotten used to immediate satisfaction from parents, technology, and society. It seems patience is a lost virtue today. Many people don't want to wait for anything and need instant gratification in all areas of life. Consider the following common choices that can inhibit diabetes management.

  • Impulse shopping in the grocery store
  • Snacking throughout the day
  • Choosing to skip exercise rather than wait for a machine at the gym if it's being used
  • Not preparing for a new event or life change; wanting to be told what to do and get on with it
  • Wanting a magic pill that will take care of a problem without any personal change or discipline
  • Not planning activities or exercise and taking the car because it's faster

The marshmallow experiment is a well-known experiment conducted by Walter Mischel at Stanford University in the 1960s. The experiment evaluated impulse control in a group of 4-year-olds. The children were given a marshmallow and promised another if they could wait 20 minutes before eating the first one. Some children could wait; others couldn't. Researchers followed the children into adolescence, and those with the ability to wait were better adjusted and scored higher in aptitude tests.

What do you think? Are there any valid points in my thought process today? Do you think generational influence plays a role in managing your diabetes?

Have a great week,


5 Comments Posted

Nov. 17, 2011