Downsides of Becoming an Adult: Growing Less Active and Gaining Weight

22 Janvier, 2020, 03:21 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • Routine Tam Fry

Three studies reported increases in body weight on leaving high school, though there were not enough studies to provide a mean weight increase.

The team of researchers from the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR) at Cambridge, analyzed past studies that looked at the effects of leaving school, stating on higher education, getting a job, starting relationships and becoming a parent on weight gain and on general health.

"Little evidence" analysed whether a worse diet and less exercise may be to blame. The first study looked at the effect of leaving school on weight gain.

Experts also looked at female weight gain during the transition from secondary school into higher education or employment. To do this, they carried out systematic reviews and meta-analyses of existing scientific literature - these approaches allow them to compare and consolidate results from a number of often-contradictory studies to reach more robust conclusions. The changes in body weight and physical activity linked to life changes such as leaving high school, moving on to higher education/college or jobs etc. If all these life transitions are contributing to small weight gains, overall that becomes a problem.

Nine studies found that leaving secondary school was associated with a decrease of 6.7 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous exercise for women - that jumped to 16.4 minutes a day for men.

The change was biggest when people went to university, with overall levels of moderate to vigorous physical activity falling by 11.4 minutes per day. One study showed that leaving university led to poorer diet choices and eating behaviours. People are changing their habits as they move to university or into employment, often in a less healthy direction.

Three studies also showed people put on weight after leaving school, while others found decreases in physical activity on starting employment.

These researchers concluded that there has been a focus on "school‐based public health policy and interventions", but these studies reveal that obesity and overweight prevention should also focus on the transition period between school and college and university and employment.

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Evidence on exercise showed that mothers and fathers tended to do less exercise than childless people.

"This evidence suggests the pressures of university, employment and childcare drive changes in behaviour which are likely to be bad for long-term health".

In the second part of their research - also published in Obesity Reviews - the scientists looked at how becoming a parent affects our waistline. The participants were aged between 15 and 35 years. There were a total of 15 studies and six among them had only women participants.

Results revealed that there was a different in weight gain among women with and without children.

A meta-analysis of six studies found the difference in change in body mass index (BMI) between remaining without children and becoming a parent was 17%: a woman of average height (164cm) who had no children gained around 7.5kg over five to six years, while a mother of the same height would gain an additional 1.3kg. Women who became mothers had an extra 0.47 points rise in their BMI. Parents had a significant decline in their physical activity found the study compared to non-parents. Authors wrote, "Becoming a mother is associated with 17% greater absolute BMI gain than remaining childless".

The team emphasized on focussing on BMI rise among young women (both mothers and non-mothers).

'Parenthood is a time when lifestyles are changing.



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