The dreaded spread of middle age is getting WORSE: Today’s generations are fatter than ever, with BMI rising early in life and rising more strongly, study warns
- Researchers looked at the BMI of 65,000 people to see how weight has changed
- People are now gaining weight at a younger age than previous generations
The dreaded middle-aged spread is now affecting more people and is at a younger age than ever before, a study finds.
Data from 65,000 people in four studies was collected and revealed that modern humans gain weight in their 40s and 50s compared to previous generations.
US researchers say understanding BMI changes during life is key to preventing rapid weight gain at key points in a person’s life, such as adolescence.
Scroll down for video
The dreaded middle-aged spread is now affecting more people and is at a younger age than ever before, a study finds (stock)
Pictured, a graph showing the change in a person’s BMI as they age. Each colored line shows how the BMI of an age group changes depending on when they were born. On average, BMI increases in more recent cohorts
Scientists divided all participants into 17 groups based on when they were born, with each five-year cohort dating back to before 1905.
Analysis showed that each group had a higher mean BMI than the people born in the previous window.
There was also a stronger increase in BMI as people got older compared to their elderly.
For example, for people born between 1955 and 1959, the mean BMI between the ages of 20 and 29 was 24.4, a healthy weight.
This then steadily increased and the mean BMI was obese (over 30) when they were between the ages of 50 and 59.
Pictured, how the average BMI changes as a person ages, depending on when they were born. The spread by middle age affects people at a younger age in recent cohorts, data shows
Researchers found racial differences in BMI as people age, with white women having a lower BMI than black and Hispanic women. A similar pattern was seen in men, but with less difference between races
Obese women are 70 percent more likely to miscarry
A woman’s risk of consecutive miscarriages increases by 70 percent if she is clinically obese rather than at a healthy weight.
Researchers have reviewed several existing studies of recurrent pregnancy loss to investigate which lifestyle factors may be involved.
People who are overweight or underweight – that is, with a body mass index (BMI) between 25-30 or below 18.5, respectively – are also at increased risk.
Miscarriage is the most common complication of early pregnancy and unfortunately affects about 15-20 percent of expectant mothers.
Meanwhile, recurrent pregnancy loss is defined as when a woman has two or more consecutive early miscarriages.
It is a complex disease that – although often attributed to a variety of medical and lifestyle factors – remains unexplained in about half of all cases.
But for people born between 1960 and 1964, the average obesity BMI – higher than 25 – was in their twenties. By the time they were in their forties, they were obese.
For people born between 1980 and 1984, they averaged a healthy weight in their teens, overweight in their 20s, and obese in their 30s.
“We found higher mean levels of and greater increases in BMI with age in more recent birth cohorts compared to previously born cohorts,” the researchers write in their study.
They also found racial differences in BMI as people age, with white women having a lower BMI than black and Hispanic women.
A similar pattern was seen in men, but with less difference between races.
‘Black and Hispanic excesses in BMI compared to whites were present early in life and persisted at all ages, and in the case of black and white differences were of greater magnitude for more recent cohorts,’ the researchers add in their paper, published in PNAS
Data also showed that people educated to a higher level had a lower BMI on average.
The findings could inform strategies to prevent rapid weight gain during the critical period of adolescence and young adulthood, reduce racial and education-based inequalities in obesity, and ultimately improve health outcomes at all ages, the authors said.