According to new study conducted in the United Kingdom by Cancer Research UK, more than 7 in 10 millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) will be obese by the time they reach middle age, making them one of the heaviest generations in history.
The study shows that the average body weight in the 1960s compared to what it was in the 80s, to what it is now, shows a significant rise in the prevalence of obesity in the 80s, when the millennial generation started to be born
The stats point to processed foods as one of the culprits behind the obesity epidemic. Processed foods first started to crowd grocery aisles in the 80s when people were unaware of how really bad added sugars were for health. The public craze-diet back then was on eating low fat, higher carb, added sugar foods. Many processed foods during that era had a high glycemic index, meaning they increased blood sugar which then stimulated the production of hormone insulin to process the sugars. Insulin is now implicated in rising obesity rates.
When you have elevated insulin levels for prolonged periods, that is a precursor to developing obesity.
Millennials may be more educated about food, nutrition, and food transparency than previous generations, nevertheless, they chose processed foods to match their fast-paced, instant-gratification lifestyle. When food is more readily available, and more processed than it was in the past, you are more likely to gain weight. It is projected that more than half of today’s children will be obese by the time they are 35 years old.
We can turn the obesity epidemic around with public health initiatives, such as improving school lunches, designing cities with biking and walking paths to encourage activity, and providing more communities with access to affordable healthy foods.
Millennials may have suffered from things that they did not have control over, but that is no reason why they cannot change now. Some of the steps millennials can take to improve their health is to:
Rather than fill your plate with rice or pasta, add half a plate of vegetables to every meal.
Know what you are eating: Reading labels is the first step to understanding food. Find out what ingredients have been added to food and the processing it undergoes, as that determines the nutritional value of what you are eating.
Get your heart rate up: Start with attainable goals while exercising; just getting your heart rate up twice a week can help combat weight. This could be achieved by brisk walking, jogging or lifting weights and does not have to be intense or for prolonged periods.
Limit screen time: For millennials and older, most of their screen time is deeply woven into their lives. They use it to do work, get information, communicate with people. But they can put healthy limits on screen use in the same way people in their 80s put limits on watching television.