For millennials, losing weight isn’t as easy as baby boomers and previous generations, and their stereotype of being lazy isn’t really to blame. More factors, such as stress and pollution may be what are preventing Generation Y from shedding the pounds.
Weight Loss Woes
Researchers studied what adults in the United States ate, how much they reportedly exercised, and their body mass index. They then compared this with data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, which included dietary information from nearly 36,400 people between 1971 and 2008, as well as information regarding physical activity from about 14,400 people between 1988 and 2006.
“I didn’t expect to see this finding” Jennifer L. Kuk, associate professor of kinesiology and health science at York University in Toronto said. The study concluded that a person in 2006, who consumed the same number of calories and exercised the same amount as someone in 1988, would have a body mass index that was 2.3 points higher.
Obesity rates worldwide have been climbing since the late 1980s and most people readily assume that it was because the current generation is eating more and exercising less.
The findings say otherwise. In the present day, more people are stressed and sleep considerably less than previous generations, which contributes greatly to how much weight people are gaining now. Additionally, the finding say that our changing diets, coupled with exposure to more pesticides and industrial chemicals, means we have less healthy gut microbes.
More people are taking medication associated with weight gain and living in an increasingly climate-controlled world that doesn’t give any opportunity to burn calories to maintain our body temperature.
Kuk added, “We think everything has a small effect but when you’re adding them together, you’re getting a larger effect. The problem is further confounded with the fact that certain people are at an increased exposure to these environmental and chemical factors.
Sleep and Weight Loss
Dr. Holly F. Lofton, director of the Medical Weight Management Program at NYU Langone Medical Center said that of all the factors mentioned, “Sleep has good evidence. I would put that high on the list.” Since more people are staying up late, they tend to eat more. Additionally, people who don’t sleep enough make higher levels of hormone called ghrelin, which increases appetite.
Stress is without a doubt intertwined with the problem of lack of sleep. Stress hormones tell the body to store more fat as a response to a condition that they may deem as dangerous and life threatening. Long workdays and stress means more people are eating and the calories are burning up less.
Despite the rather pessimistic view of the study, the researchers explain that it is possible to lose weight, but the proper way means managing stress levels and getting enough sleep to ensure that weight loss and diets are effective.