Busy lifestyles and the increasing availability of high-calorie convenience foods are having a major impact on our body size. A comparison of the 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS) with the MRC National Survey of Health and Development (1946 cohort) found that people born in 1958 started to become overweight much earlier in adulthood than those born in 1946, even though there was little difference between the weight of the two generations in childhood. The researchers suggest this is due to the changes in diet and lifestyle that led to an obesity epidemic in the 1980s, when the 1946 cohort were in their 30s and the 1958 cohort were in their 20s.
Furthermore, research using data from the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) has shown that the generation born in 1970 were more likely to be obese at a younger age than the 1958 cohort. Findings revealed that men and women born in 1970 were at a higher risk of being overweight or obese at age 42 than those born in 1958 were at the same age. Sixteen per cent of both men and women in the 1958 generation were obese at age 42, compared to one in five women (20 per cent) and nearly a quarter of men (23 per cent) born in 1970.