When you’re in your late teens or early twenties, preventing weight gain might not be at the top of your list of things to worry about. You’re probably focused on getting through college, beginning your career, and/or starting a family. During young adulthood, many Americans still enjoy excellent health and don’t worry about future health problems — hence, the commonly used term “young invincibles.”
However, a study published in July 2017 in JAMA, conducted by researchers at Harvard University, shows that men and women who gain weight between young adulthood and the age of 55 are significantly more likely to end up with heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity-related cancer in later life. They were also more likely to die early. Even worse, larger amounts of weight gain were associated with higher risks for these problems.
For this study, the Harvard researchers looked at data from over 92,800 women and over 25,300 men. On average, women gained 22 pounds between the ages of 18 and 25. The average amount of weight gain for men was 19 pounds between the ages of 21 and 55. Pooling the data for men and women, the researchers found that each 11-pound increase in weight could have the following effects:
- 30% increase in the risk of Type 2 diabetes
- 14% increase in the risk of high blood pressure
- 6% increase in the risk of obesity-related cancer
- 5% increase in the risk of premature death
- 17% decrease in the likelihood of scoring well on a healthy aging assessment measuring physical and mental wellness
Based on these shocking statistics, it is clear that young adults need to establish healthy lifestyle habits that prevent weight gain. And once these habits are in place, you have to maintain them for the next three decades in order to avoid the high risks for chronic and debilitating health conditions in the future.
Developing Dietary Habits that Prevent Weight Gain
As a young or middle-aged adult, it can be hard to find the time to learn about healthy nutrition, much less prepare healthy meals. The information you find on the internet is all over the place — one website might claim that kale is a “superfood,” while another might say that its benefits are highly exaggerated, and you might as well save your money and buy iceberg lettuce instead. When you’re in college, managing your career, and/or juggling family obligations, you just don’t have time to sift through information to determine what is reliable. It can also be exhausting to spend hours planning out healthy meals that taste good, prevent weight gain, and give you the energy you need to get through each day.
If you don’t have the spare time to become a nutritional expert, you might want to consider nutritional counseling. Health professionals like chiropractors can help you develop a meal plan that keeps you satisfied and prevents weight gain, without breaking your budget or requiring you to spend hours slaving over gourmet meals. Chiropractors can also help you find nutritional supplements that are specific to your health needs.
Adopting Healthy Exercise Habits
In high school, you might have gotten your exercise in P.E. class or on a sports team, but when you enter the real world, it’s up to you to keep yourself fit — whether that means a morning jog, an evening trip to the gym after work, or a yoga session once the kids are down for bed. It can be hard to establish an exercise routine in your twenties, but it is even more difficult to maintain a regular exercise regimen to prevent weight gain throughout your thirties, forties, and fifties. Some of the things that derail the efforts of many exercise-enthusiasts is chronic pain and injury. Getting on the elliptical after a long day at the office becomes a lot harder when your back is aching or your foot hurts every time you take a step.
There are a few things you can do to help prevent chronic pain and recover quickly from injuries that might otherwise throw off your long-term weight gain prevention goals. For instance, a regular chiropractic adjustment can address existing pain and lower the risk that it will arise in the future. Certain massage modalities can also have similar effects. In some cases, custom orthotics can also reduce the risk of injuries that could keep you from getting the exercise you need to prevent weight gain.
What If I Have Already Gained Weight?
The Harvard researchers who conducted the JAMA study did not include an assessment of whether losing previously gained weight would lessen the associated health risks. However, the study’s lead author points out that earlier research has shown that losing 5 to 10 percent of body weight can significantly lower your disease risk. Therefore, even if it’s too late for you to prevent weight gain, adopting healthy dietary and nutrition habits that enable you to lose weight can still have a positive impact on your long-term health.
Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness offers a variety of services that can help young people and middle-aged adults prevent weight gain and lose weight in order to reduce the risk of future health problems. Through chiropractic adjustments, massage, custom orthotics, and nutritional counseling and support, we can help you stay strong and healthy throughout your life. Contact us today to set up an appointment!