Younger generation more prone to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart diseases

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Ever wondered why there are so many overweight kids and youngsters around you? Well it seems there is a scientific reason behind it as according to a new research published in PLOS Medicine, people born since the 1980s are at a higher risk of being overweight or obese by the age of 10 than older generation.

Researchers arrived at the conclusion after characterizing population shifts in body mass index (BMI) using data from more than 56,000 people born in Britain from 1946 to 2001. Researchers have described the changing pattern of age-related progression of overweight and obesity from early childhood in white populations born in the UK. Researchers further state that the results may not be generalizable to other populations owing to their distinct genetic predispositions, environmental exposures and access to health care.

“[o]ur results demonstrate how younger generations are likely to accumulate greater exposure to overweight or obesity throughout their lives and, thus, increased risk for chronic health conditions such as coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus”, said researchers.

Though the The results may not be generalizable to other populations, which have distinct genetic predispositions, environmental exposures and access to health care, though studies from diverse settings have suggested similar shifts.

“In the absence of effective intervention, overweight and obesity will have severe public health consequences in decades to come.”

The latest research and its findings will be helpful and relevant to policymakers as well as healthcare professions who are in charge of predicting the obesity epidemic. According to some estimates obesity will cost the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) a whopping £22.9 billion per year by 2020.

Dr William Johnson, MRC Human Nutrition Research at the University of Cambridge, and Professor Rebecca Hardy and colleagues at the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing and the Institute of Child Health at UCL analyzed longitudinal data from individuals in five birth cohorts.

The data revealed that most of the rise in BMI has been a result of increases at the upper end of the BMI distribution. Even so, across the 1946, 1958, and 1970 cohorts, the age at which the median adults entered the overweight range decreased from 41 to 33 to 30 years in males and 48 to 44 to 41 years in females. While childhood obesity is more prevalent among younger generations, the majority of today’s children are still a normal weight.