Science Proves It's More Difficult to Lose Weight Today Than it Was in the '80s

We have to eat less and exercise more get to the same weight. Life is unfair.

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Telling when-I-was-your-age stories is essentially a rite of passage into older adulthood. You'd think walking three miles to school — barefoot in the snow and uphill both ways, of course — was a national pastime. But in the debate of who had it tougher, the younger generations might win this round.

That's because a September 2015 study published in Obesity Research & Clinical Practice suggests that people today have to eat less and exercise more than people did in the 1980s in order to achieve the same weight.

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Researchers from Toronto's York University analyzed the self-reported diet habits of more than 36,000 U.S. adults between 1971 and 2008 as well as self-reported physical activity of more than 14,000 U.S. adults between 1988 and 2006.

The results revealed that a person in 2006 would have a BMI that was 2.3 points higher than someone of the same age in 1988, even though they followed the same exercise routine and ate the same amount of calories and macronutrients (think protein, fats, etc.).

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In other words, if you followed the same diet and exercise plan that your parents did when they were your age, you would still weigh more than them. Uncool, guys.

Why the difference? Well, life.

The study authors point out several differences between now and the '80s that have been linked to weight gain, including increased exposure to pesticides and other chemicals, taking more prescription medications and disrupting the diversity of our gut bacteria.

Figuring out exactly why we have to eat less and exercise more than our '80s counterparts to stay healthy will require more research, but this study is a good reminder: There's more to obesity than a poor diet and lack of exercise; there are many contributing factors, some of which are out of our control.

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