Studies Suggest That Today’s Adults Age 15 Years Faster Than Their Parents

It seems like every health article now-a-days has a headline like, “40 is the new 30!” Well it turns out, 40 is the new 55. Many people think that since we are living longer, then we must be healthier than our parents when they were our age. However, new data points to the fact that we are indeed aging faster than our parents.

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Today’s 30 year-old people are in such poor physiological condition that they are 15 years “older” than their parents and grandparents when they were at the same age, suggest two new studies.

The first study out of the Netherlands, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, followed 6,000 volunteers aged 20+, 30+, 40+ and 50+, for 16 years and found that people in their forties are now experiencing similar health problems like hypertension, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes, as the 50-year-olds did in the previous generation. The consequences of our indolent, calorie-laden lifestyle found that the adults of today have poorer “metabolic health” than in the past.

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Poor diet and lack of exercise is blamed for increase in obesity, blood pressure and diabetes.

In fact, today’s 30 year-olds are 20% more likely to be overweight compared to the older generations. Similarly, today’s 20 year-old women are twice as likely to be obese compared to those who were at this age 10 years ago. Likewise were the findings for men and women with regard to hypertension and diabetes.

“Today’s young people are aged 15 years older with regard to metabolic health,” said lead researcher Dr. Gerben Hulsegge of the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and Environment.

He continued: “The modern young adults are doing much worse than their ancestors. The frequency of obesity in today’s 40 year-olds is similar to that in 55 year-olds of the previous generation.

This means that the younger generations are 15 years “ahead” of the older ones, which means that they have the risk of being overweight at an earlier age, with all the consequences for their health.

The same applies for other metabolic problems. Since the health condition of today’s young people is undermined very early, they must take actions now, otherwise the quality of their life will suffer at a very earlier age than they expect.”


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Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones who gets carded in your 30s. Or maybe you are less fortunate, and others routinely think you look older. Regardless, you might be wondering, “can how you look in your 30s be related to how quickly you are aging?”

A separate study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that it is.

Two weeks ago, an international team of researchers reported that they have developed a new method for measuring aging in young adults.  And this new method is not only related to how old you look, but to both your physiological and cognitive health, as well as your own sense of well-being.

The new method involves 18 different biological markers, which assess different things, ranging from a person’s heart, lungs, livers, kidneys, immune system, and metabolic system.  Researchers also calculated the participants’ IQ and BMI; peeked into their mouths for signs of gingivitis; photographed their retinas to assess blood vessels within the brain; and sampled their DNA—looking for signs of aging.

Over one thousand participants—all from the same New Zealand town, born in 1972 or 1973—were involved. At the time of the study, all of the participants were 38-years old.

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It’s important at this point to distinguish that this was their “chronological age,” because the first question researchers asked is whether these participants were aging at different rates.

Using their 18 biological markers, the researchers were able to assign a “biological age” to each person, and they found a typical bell curve, ranging from 28 to 61 years old.  Thus, some of the 38-year old participants were biologically younger or older than the others.

Moreover, the researchers found that this biological age reflects a person’s physiological functions.  Participants with a more advanced biological age struggled more with motor and balance tests, demonstrated less strength with grip tests and reported more difficulties with physical activities, like climbing stairs or walking long distances.

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While the study didn’t look at whether loose morals hastened aging, you might be amused to find that this 20th-century manual on “good hygiene” considered it most important.

The same relationship held true with cognitive functions; participants with a higher biological age had lower cognitive functioning.  Furthermore, when the researchers compared current data with that taken when the participants were children, those with more advanced biological age showed a decline in IQ over the years.

So, what about a person’s perceived age?  To assess “facial age,” undergraduates from Duke University were asked to look at photos of strangers, and take note of perceived differences in their aging. The students ultimately rated those with higher biological ages as looking older.  Finally, participants with more advanced biological ages claimed to feel less well than their biologically younger peers.

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“We set out to measure aging in these relatively young people,” reported Dan Belsky, an assistant professor of geriatrics in Duke University’s Center for Aging.  “Most studies of aging look at seniors, but if we want to be able to prevent age-related disease, we’re going to have to start studying aging in young people.”

Fortunately, it’s not all bad.  Even though signs of aging were already present in 38-year olds, environment is believed to play a larger role in aging than genetics.  “That gives us some hope that medicine might be able to slow aging and give people more healthy active years,” stated senior author Terrie Moffitt, the Nannerl O. Keohane professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke.

Author Bios

Anna LeMind loves learning new things and sharing knowledge with others, with topics ranging from science, psychology, self improvement or other related topics. Add her to your circles on Google Plus or follow me on Twitter to stay updated on my new articles.


Jenny Ludmer is trained in scientific research, writing and analysis as well as a little art, Jenny now divides her time between science writing and oil painting — that is when not caring for her family, chickens, garden and dog!

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