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Adults from the Past Considered More Healthy Than Adults Today

Update Date: Apr 10, 2013 11:51 AM EDT

With more technology, which ranges from the apps on smartphones and tablets to online shopping, the people in this current generation have more reasons to sit all day and avoid physical activity. Technology, like a double-edged sword, has also lengthened adult life expectancies making research for medical breakthroughs and treatment options easier and more effective. Despite the fact that adults are living longer today, a new research study reported that adults today could be considered less metabolically healthy than adults from the past.

"The more recently born generations are doing worse...the prevalence of metabolic risk factors and the lifelong exposure to them have increased and probably will increased," the study, done in the Netherlands revealed.

The research team looked at data composed of over 6,000 people taken from the Doetinchem Cohort Study. This study started in 1987 and did three follow-up studies, which occurred six, 11, and 16 years after the start date. The study recorded body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels looking for hypercholesterolemia, and levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. The participants were separated according to their age groups, which were made up of people from their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. The researchers took this data and looked for any generation shifts in certain health conditions,

The researchers reported that in all age groups, the risk factors of obesity, being overweight, and hypertension were common. However, the younger generations had higher frequencies of these risk factors. The study reported that of men who started the study in their 30s, 40 percent were considered overweight. After 11 years, 52 percent of the new group of men in their 30s were considered overweight. The researchers also found that the rates of hypertension also seemed to have increased through generations. For diabetes in particular, the researchers found that more men were developing this disease in recent years than women. There were no generation shifts for hypercholesterolemia.

"The prevalence of obesity in our youngest generation of men and women at the mean age of 40 is similar to that of our oldest generation at the mean age of 55. This means that this younger generation is '15 years ahead' of the older generation and will be exposed to their obesity for a longer time. So our study firstly highlights the need for a healthy body weight - by encouraging increased physical activity and balanced diet, particularly among the younger generations," the first author, Gerben Heulsegge, who is from the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, stated.

The findings were reported in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

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