More than 70% of millennials are expected to be overweight or obese by middle age, according to new research by Cancer Research UK.
Millennials are defined as people born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s. The new research compares millennials to baby boomers, who were born between 1945-55, and shows that while around 50% of baby boomers were overweight or obese between the ages of 35-44, projections indicate that seven in ten millennials will be overweight or obese by that same age.
The report warns of additional health concerns posed by the estimate, because being overweight or obese in adulthood is linked to 13 different types of cancer, including breast, bowel and kidney cancer.
What is Cancer Research UK doing?
Cancer Research UK has introduced a new campaign to make people more aware of this link, and encourage them to make healthier dietary choices to decrease their risk of cancer. The charity warns that currently only 15% of people in the UK are aware of the link.
Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention, Alison Cox, emphasised the major health risks caused by obesity, and stressed that better prevention efforts could dramatically decrease their prevalence: “Being overweight is the UK’s biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking, but most people don’t know about this substantial risk. If more people become aware of the link it may help spare not just millennials, but all generations from cancer.”
Can this rise in obesity be prevented?
The charity has warned that the environment surrounding millennials is filled with “clever marketing tactics” and greater access to unhealthy foods, which have contributed to a rise in obesity rates.
However, it insists that it is still possible to reduce this predicted rise in obesity. Professor Linda Bauld, a prevention expert at Cancer Research UK, said: “While these estimates sound bleak, we can stop them becoming a reality.”
On the part of the charity, this will involve a targeted public awareness campaign about the link between obesity and cancer, she added: “Millennials are known for following seemingly healthy food trends, but nothing beats a balanced diet. Eating plenty of fruit, vegetables and other fibre filled foods like wholegrains, and cutting down on junk food is the best way to keep a healthy weight.”