26 February 2018

Generation Fat

Millennials are on track to be the fattest generation since records began

Millennials are on track to be the fattest generation since records began. With the ever-increasing ease of takeaway food through apps and “sausage roll shops” seemingly springing up on every corner there is no surprise that Britain is the most obese nation in Western Europe, with rates rising faster than in any other developed nation. New studies have revealed a daunting fact that 7 in 10 millennials that is people born between the early 1980’s to mid-1990’s will be obese by the time they reach middle age.

Obesity prevalence has been increasing in the UK, from 15% in 1993 to 27% in 2015. The highest obesity levels in 2015 were seen in people aged 55 to 64, but experts are concerned that younger generations are on track to become fatter still. “This poses a real danger as being overweight becomes ever increasingly normalised, many people struggle to recognise obesity in themselves, and often are unable to see when their child is overweight.” Prof Russell Viner Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Surely a little bit of extra weight isn’t that bad?

"Extra body fat doesn't just sit there; it sends messages around the body that can cause damage to cells… This damage can build up over time and increase the risk of cancer in the same way that damage from smoking causes cancer” Professor Linda Bauld.

Being overweight as an adult is linked to 13 different types of cancer, the list includes breast, bowel and kidney cancer. According to Cancer Research UK, only 15% of people in the UK are aware of the link between excess body fat and cancer.

Obese people often have increased blood levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). (This condition, known as hyperinsulinemia or insulin resistance, precedes the development of type 2 diabetes.) High levels of insulin and IGF-1 may promote the development of colon, kidney, prostate, and endometrial cancers

Fat tissue (adipose tissue) can produce excess amounts of estrogen, high levels of which have been associated with increased risks of breast, endometrial, ovarian, and some other cancers.

The dangerous link between obesity and cancer needs to be further recognised in the same light that smoking and cancer is. Knowledge of the links between cancer and smoking have driven smoking rates down dramatically amongst younger generations, this same knowledge could do the same.

Yet this is an issue that has the potential to be easily be resolved, simply with a balanced diet and regular exercise. This doesn’t have to be running a marathon, yet can simply be a change of habits, swapping crisps for fruit or raw vegetables, cutting sugar from your tea or coffee and keeping yourself moving, go for a walk and keep up your step count, or short burst of regular exercise.

These small changes in your daily life could greatly improve your health in the short term and work wonders in the long term keeping you fit and healthy, and helping to decrease your risk of developing several cancers.

 

Sources:

Cancer Research UK

National Cancer Institute

BBC news