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In a new study out of Toronto’s York University, obesity researchers using one set each of diet and exercise data collected in the United States have found adults who ate the same amount of calories were about 10 percent heavier in 2008 than their counterparts in 1971. When it came to physical activity, adults doing the same amount of exercise in 2006 were five percent heavier than their counterparts in 1988.
"Our study results suggest that if you are 25, you’d have to eat even less and exercise more than those older to prevent gaining weight," professor Jennifer Kuk, one of the authors of the study, said in a release.
If it’s not about diet and exercise, then what’s going on? The study didn’t offer a conclusive answer to that question but offered possible culprits, all of which require more research. The potential reasons for the additional weight gain include medication use, environmental pollutants, genetics, timing of food intake, stress, gut bacteria, artificial sweeteners and nighttime light exposure.
Prescription drugs and gut bacteria
As an online piece from The Atlantic points out, the use of prescription drugs has risen dramatically since the 1970s. Antidepressants are now some of the most commonly prescribed drugs and there is research connecting them to weight gain.
And as we begin to learn more about the connection between our overall health and that of our digestive systems, research has shown a link between gut bacteria and weight gain, suggesting some of the changes may be due to a diet of unhealthy processed foods or the overuse of antibiotics in children (not a bad reason to explore ways to keep your gut healthy at any age).
For now, Kuk and her colleagues suggest that their findings might inspire some compassion for young people who are struggling to control their weight. Diet and exercise are still crucial, of course, but Millennials might be fighting a tougher battle than Gen Xers and Boomers once did.
Want more info? Learn how to communicate with post-Millennial teens and get weight- loss advice from a pro.