Obesity Risk for Millennials

Nicky Broyd

February 27, 2018

Millennials, those born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s, are the most overweight generation since current records began.

According to estimates by Cancer Research UK more than 70% are set to be overweight or obese between the ages of 35 and 44.


The Statistical Information Team at Cancer Research UK came up with its findings based on data from the Health Survey for England.

The team calculated that, once millennials reach middle age, more than 7 in 10 are likely to be overweight or obese. This compares with around 5 in 10 baby boomers - those born between 1945 and 1955 - who were overweight or obese at the same age.

Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK's director of prevention, believes if more people become aware of the link between being overweight and cancer it may help spare not just millennials, but all generations from the disease.

Cancer Risk

Being overweight is the UK's biggest cause of cancer after smoking and is linked to 13 different types of the disease including breast cancer, bowel cancer, and kidney cancer.

Cancer Research UK's prevention expert, Professor Linda Bauld, says extra body fat sends messages around the body that can damage cells. Over time the damage can build up and increase the risk of cancer in the same way that damage from smoking can.

The charity says only 15% of people in the UK are aware of the link between being overweight and cancer and it's launching a nationwide campaign to increase awareness.

Healthy Eating

The charity says nothing beats a balanced diet for keeping a healthy weight and it recommends eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, and wholegrains, and cutting down on junk food.

It also says the government must play a part in helping people to make healthy food choices.

Caroline Cerny, Obesity Health Alliance lead, agrees. In a statement she says: "Reducing obesity will not be achieved by expecting people to just eat more healthily, particularly when our environment constantly promotes junk food and over size portions. This is why the 40-plus leading health organisations in the Obesity Health Alliance are calling on the Government to take stronger action to tackle childhood obesity, starting with a 9pm watershed to reduce children's exposure to junk food adverts during their favourite TV shows."

Cancer Research UK
Obesity Health Alliance