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When should you pay more attention to exercise and weight?
We grow faster with age and move less. This combination quickly leads to obesity or even obesity and thus increases the risk of numerous dangerous diseases. According to a recent study, there is a time in life when you should start paying more attention to exercise and weight - and it is earlier than most people think.
Cambridge University researchers showed that certain events in a person's life are associated with a change in the amount of exercise. This could form the basis for constant weight gain. People experience the greatest change with the end of school and the beginning of working life. The results were recently presented in the journal Obesity Reviews.
The disadvantages of growing up
Graduating from school and doing a steady job - that's the way things go for a majority of people. According to a recent study by the Center for Diet and Activity Research at the renowned Cambridge University, this is exactly the point at which regular weight gain and increasing lack of exercise begin.
The pounds come with the job
Many people tend to gain weight at the end of adolescence and in adulthood. According to the researchers, this transition is particularly critical. Because the extent of weight gain is highest at this age. Changes in eating and exercise behavior seem to be responsible for this effect. According to the study, other critical points in time are the start of a new relationship and the birth of a child.
Analyzes brought clear conclusions
The research team performed meta-analyzes on the existing scientific literature on the subject to compare the results of a number of studies, some of which came to conflicting results. Through the analysis, the researchers came to a clear conclusion.
Graduating from school entails changes in behavior
In the first analysis, the team examined the timing of the transition from school to work and how it affects body weight, diet, and physical activity. They found a total of 19 studies on this topic. The participants in the studies were between 15 and 35 years old.
Average amount of exercise decreases
The researchers found that school leaving is associated with a decline of at least seven minutes of moderate to heavy physical activity per day. The decrease was greater in men than in women. Some studies have reported an increase in body weight after leaving school. However, there is currently not enough data to average these weight gains.
Does nutrition deteriorate after school?
Two studies also suggested that the quality of the diet decreased with leaving school. "Children have a protected environment at school, where healthy eating and exercise are encouraged," explains Dr. Eleanor Winpenny from Cambridge University. The pressure that universities, professions and childcare have on an individual could lead to long-term negative changes with consequences for one's own health.
"This is a really important time."
Winpenny emphasizes that the time school ends and professional life begins is a really important time, "when people develop healthy or unhealthy habits that will continue in adult life in the long run."
Young mothers gain weight faster
In the second analysis, the team examined the effects on weight, nutrition and physical activity in parents who had a child. It was found that women who had no children weighed an average of 17 percent less than mothers. Childless women gained an average of around 7.5 kilograms within five to six years. Mothers of the same size put an additional 1.3 kg on average in the same period. There was no difference in fathers compared to childless men.
"The BMI increases in women in young adulthood, especially those who become mothers," sums up Dr. Kirsten Corder from the study team. This group is likely to be particularly interested in behavior changes, as they could also influence children to take more care of their own health.
More intervention needed
"Interventions aimed at increasing the level of activity of parents and improving nutrition could be of benefit to everyone involved," emphasizes Dr. Corder. The message also needs to be reconsidered that gaining weight due to pregnancy is acceptable. (vb)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- University of Cambridge: Becoming less active and gaining weight: downsides of becoming an adult (published: 20.01.2020), cam.ac.uk
- Winpenny, E. et al. Changes in physical activity, diet and body weight across the education and employment transitions of early adulthood: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews, 2020, onlinelibrary.wiley.com
- Corder, K. Becoming a parent: a systematic review and meta-analysis of changes in BMI, diet and physical activity. Obesity Reviews; 2020, onlinelibrary.wiley.com