The health behaviors of the older US worker

Lora E Fleming, David J. Lee, Alberto J.Caban Martinez, William G. LeBlanc, Kathryn E. McCollister, Katherine Chung Bridges, Sharon L. Christ, Kristopher L. Arheart, Terry Pitman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-437
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2007


  • Ethanol abuse
  • Exercise
  • Occupation
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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