Posted on May 01, 2013, 6 a.m.
Generational shifts in metabolic risk factors suggest that today’s adults are less healthy than their predecessors.
Metabolic risks for cardiovascular disease, such as excess weight and hypertension, are becoming more prevalent at younger ages. Gerben Hulsegge, from the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (The Netherlands), and colleagues studied disease prevalence over time in four 10-year cohorts of Dutch adults, comparing the ages at which risk factors first appeared. They termed changes in these 10-year cohorts "generation shifts." Participants were recruited in four waves between 1987 and 2007, and stratified according to whether they were in their 20s, 30s, 40s, or 50s at enrollment. The first wave included 12,405 individuals, while the three subsequent waves included 6,113, 4,916, and 4,520 participants, respectively. During 16 years of follow-up, increases were seen in all generations in metabolic risk factors, the researchers found. For instance, among men in their 40s at baseline, 55% were overweight, but a decade later this had risen to 63%. For men in their 30s in the baseline generation, 4% were obese. But 10 years later, the proportion of obese men in their 30s had grown to 11%. In addition, among men in their 30s at baseline, 18% were hypertensive, a figure that rose to 33% in the subsequent generation. Observing that: “The lifelong exposure to especially obesity will increase,” the study authors warn that: “As a consequence, more elderly of the future will develop overweight-related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
Hulsegge G, Susan H, Picavet J, Blokstra A, Nooyens AC, Spijkerman AM, van der Schouw YT, Smit HA, Verschuren WM. “Today's adult generations are less healthy than their predecessors: generation shifts in metabolic risk factors: the Doetinchem Cohort Study.” Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2013 Apr 10.