UAE: Gen Z diet and worry about weight more than previous generations, say experts

Younger generation likely to be more exposed to obesity, study says.

File photo
File photo

Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Tue 8 Feb 2022, 3:18 PM

Last updated: Tue 8 Feb 2022, 3:34 PM

If having to spend their early 20s fighting a global pandemic wasn’t enough for Gen Z, they are now worrying about their weight more than any generation before them.

Individuals born between 1997 to 2012, or the Gen Z, are facing increased dangers associated with obesity, Cynthia Bou Khalil, nutritional consultant and clinical excellence manager at Allurion has said.

According to a report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2021, worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975, and in 2016 alone more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight, of which 650 million were obese.

The study also said it was demonstrated that the younger generation is likely to be more exposed to obesity throughout their lives than previous generations, thus putting them at an increased risk for chronic health conditions such as coronary heart disease and type two diabetes mellitus.

Absence of effective and timely intervention, obesity will have severe public health consequences in decades to come, stated the study.

‘Concern towards weight loss is high in Gen Z population’

“Furthermore, over the last decade, a rapid increase in time spent in sedentary activities by people in their early childhood and an overall downward trend in energy-expending behaviour has been observed,” said Cynthia.

“This goes to show that more on-screen time and a ‘cohort effect’ towards lower physical activity are one of the leading causes of increased weight among Gen Z,” she added.

As a result, they are beginning to understand the consequences of obesity on their overall well-being in adulthood and are seeking to lose the weight.

According to the nutritionist, there is an acceptance of intervention by the Gen Z population to bring reform to their diets and a more system-focused approach that recognise the interrelation of different influences on their diet.

“As I get approached by younger patients who want to lose weight, I have observed curiosity in subjects related to weight loss, such as different types of diets or even looking into alternative methods to lose weight,” said Cynthia.

“This interest can be seen coming from their growing worry about putting on too much weight too fast and being unable to shed those kilos as easily. However, wanting to lose weight can also be seen as a silver lining as they are becoming more aware and in control of their habits,” she added.

‘Role of social media in matters surrounding weight loss’

It must be acknowledged that with the rise of social media more people are coming forward and leading the conversation surrounding matters related to weight loss, said the nutritionist.

“It is good to raise awareness about the varying impacts of obesity and create a space to discuss how it can be prevented, it is vital to do it the right way. The need of the hour is to educate the younger population about the right ways to lose weight and see obesity as a threat instead of thinking that it is a simple weight problem that can be cured by jumping on fad diets and trends,” she added.

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