Staying thin in the ’80s was easier

If you have clients who are complaining they aren’t as thin as their mother was in the 1980s, there may be a scientific reason for it. 


Packing it on? There might be a reason for why staying thing these days isn't as easy as it was a few decades ago.
Packing it on? There might be a reason for why staying thin these days isn’t as easy as it was a few decades ago.


A study to come out of York University, Toronto has been released, which suggests that chemicals in packaging, antidepressants and hormones in food and technology are causing Millennials to gain more weight.

The study, published in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, revealed that people were 10 per cent heavier in 2008 than in 1971, despite eating the same calories. They were also approximately 5 per cent heavier in 2006 compared with 1988, despite doing the same amount of exercise.

Now, the authors of the study suggest there are factors beyond calorie intake and exercise causing today’s generation to gain more weight, more easily.


1. Pesticides, chemicals and growth hormones

Professor Jennifer Kuk, an author on the York University study, suggests chemicals and pesticides are a key reason why people today might be fatter despite similar diets. Researchers claim that pesticides and chemicals in food and food packaging may be altering our hormones and affecting the way our bodies gain weight. More meat and animal products now contain growth-promoting hormones and antibiotics, which may change our gut bacteria and cause us to pile on the weight more easily.

2. Artificial sweeteners 

Artificial sweeteners are also the bad guys, as researchers say they can cause insulin resistance. If the body becomes resistant to insulin, the hormone that breaks down sugar into energy, excess glucose will circulate in the bloodstream, which then goes to the liver and is converted into fat.

3. Antidepressants 

Antidepressants play a major role in the fight against fat too. According to the National Centre for Health Statistics in the US, the rate of antidepressant use in the US increased by nearly 400 percent from 1988-1994 to 2005-2008. And according to research conducted as part of the Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation’s Quality Watch program, the amount of antidepressants dispensed annually in England rose by 25 million between 1998 and 2012 (from 15 million items in 1998 to 40 million in 2012).


Our use of antidepressants is contributing to our growing waistlines.
Our use of antidepressants is contributing to our growing waistlines.


4. Gut bacteria

Another major culprit in the war on the scales, says the new research, is that people’s gut bacteria may have changed in the last 35 years. And the list doesn’t stop there, the study also highlights other areas of modern life, which might be affecting our body weight, including genetics, the time of day (or night) we eat, stress, and even night-time light exposure (meaning, that bedtime iPad habit should be kicked to the curb).


“If our research is correct, you need to eat even less and exercise even more just to be the same weight as your parents were at your age,” says Professor Kuk. “[Weight management is] much more complex than just ‘energy in’ versus ‘energy out’’. Ultimately, maintaining a healthy body weight is now more challenging than ever.”



Have your say: Do you think we’re fatter than ever? How do you stay in shape?



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