For the youth 25 years old and below, a new study suggests that they will need to put more effort into dieting and exercising to prevent obesity compared with those from older generations.

In a recent study from the York University's Faculty of Health, researchers analyzed data from over 36,000 Americans, gathered by the National Health and Nutrition Survey from 1971 to 2008, and found that young adults who are about 25 years will have to work harder to maintain healthy weight.

Based on the data collected, the researchers found that younger adults gained more weight than older generations when eating the same amount of food.

"We observed that for a given amount of self-reported food intake, people will be about 10 percent heavier in 2008 than in 1971, and about 5 percent heavier for a given amount of physical activity level in 1988 than 2006," the researchers explained. This pattern may be part of the reason why obesity is on the rise in recent years.

Lead researcher Professor Jennifer Kuk of the School of Kinesiology and Health Science and her team pointed out that this can support other study findings that, despite adhering to strict diets and exercise regimens, long-term weight loss results still remain inadequate. Kuk believes that these findings suggest that there are more factors involved in the rising obesity problem than just diet and exercise.

"This is because weight management is actually much more complex than just 'energy in' versus 'energy out'," said Kuk. She further compared it to thinking that the amount of money in an investment is only affected by withdrawals and deposits, not taking into consideration other important factors, such as foreign currency exchange rate, the stock market and bank fees.

Kuk added that body weight is influenced by a multitude of factors both in and beyond any person's control. Aside from the obvious diet and physical activity, medications, exposure to pollutants, stress, intestinal bacteria, eating times and habits, and even light exposure can affect weight fluctuations. This, she believes, will make attaining ideal body weight even more challenging than before.

The study is published in Obesity Research & Clinical Practice.

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