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Weight gain risk is at its greatest from the ages of 18 to 34, study suggests 

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Risk of weight gain is highest between ages 18 to 34…and odds of becoming obese REDUCE in the middle, study suggests

  • Those aged 18 to 34 are the most likely age group to gain weight, study claimed
  • Chances of becoming obese decline in middle age and older age, researchers say
  • Experts say health officials should focus on healthy lifestyle advice in young adults
  • Researchers looked at 9 million BMIs of more than 2 million adults from 1998 to 2016










We often hear that weight gain is attributed to the dreaded spread of middle age.

But people ages 18 to 34 are more likely to gain weight than any other age group, according to a study.

And the likelihood of being overweight or obese declines steadily in middle age and older age, researchers say.

In addition, people who are slim by age 35 are likely to have developed habits that can help them stay in good shape throughout their lives.

We often hear that weight gain is attributed to middle age. But people ages 18 to 34 are more likely to pile on pounds than any other age group, a study claimed (stock image)

Experts from University College London and the University of Cambridge say their findings should encourage health officials to target healthy lifestyle advice at young adults.

They think this group is most likely to gain weight because the pressures of starting college, jobs and families can cause them to eat more unhealthy food, exercise less or drink more alcohol.

Set your OWN goals to get fit the fastest

Setting your own goals may be the key to getting fit and losing weight, a study suggests.

Researchers recruited 500 people from low-income neighborhoods at risk for heart attacks and strokes and gave them each a Fitbit to track their activities.

The team found that those who were given a device without achieving goals took about 300 to 500 extra steps per day, while those who were told to take 2,000 extra steps per day were able to get only 1,200.

On the other hand, participants who had to set their own goals that they thought would work best and started right away took up to 1,900 extra steps per day.

dr. Kevin Volpp, one of the study’s senior researchers, at the University of Pennsylvania, said: “Individuals who choose their own goals are more likely to be intrinsically motivated to pursue them.

“They feel like it’s their goal.”

The study, in JAMA Cardiology, also found that it was better to immediately go after your own step goal than to work towards it gradually.

The researchers examined 9 million measurements of the body mass index and weight of more than 2 million British adults between 1998 and 2016.

They found that those ages 18 to 24 had the highest risk of becoming overweight or obese in the next decade of life.

Being a young adult was a greater risk factor for weight gain than gender, ethnicity, geographic region, or socioeconomic background.

People ages 18 to 24 were four times more likely to be overweight or obese over the next ten years than people ages 65 to 74.

They were also up to six times more likely to move to a higher BMI category, such as from overweight to obese or obese to severely obese.

The insights have enabled the researchers to create an online calculator that predicts for the first time the risk of weight gain over the next one, five or ten years.

Co-senior author Professor Harry Hemingway, of UCL, said: ‘This study is a myth-buster. Middle age spread is nothing compared to weight gain in younger age.

“The idea that people gain weight faster in middle age has been around for decades because that’s the age group that’s the subject of most research.”

He called for more targeted measures, saying: “For too long the focus has been on people who are already obese, rather than how to prevent it.”

The authors, whose study was published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, said they were surprised that social deprivation was associated with only a small increase in the risk of weight gain.

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