Young people are sleepwalking into an obesity crisis that could have devastating health implications for what has been described as the "fattest generation in history".
Analysis by cancer specialists in the UK on those born between the early 1980s and mid 1990s has described millennials as the most overweight generation on record, with more than 70 per cent of them likely to be either overweight or obese by age 33-45.
By contrast, Cancer Research UK said about half of baby boomers, born between 1945 and 1955, were overweight or obese at the same age.
“There is the same trend in the UAE as the rest of the world, but it is not yet being acknowledged by young people,” said Dr Sameem Matto, a specialist of internal medicine and endocrinology at the Canadian Specialist Hospital in Dubai.
“In the UAE, millennials are more overweight than the previous generations.
“The long-term impact of this is huge as is evidenced by the increasing prevalence of metabolic disorders such as obesity, hypertension and dyslipidaemia in the younger generation, as well as increased incidence of various forms of cancers.”
National Editorial: Drastic action is needed with child obesity on the rise
The rampant rise of fast food has been blamed for millennials piling on the pounds, despite a reputation for following fad diets and health food trends.
Excess weight is linked to 13 types of cancer, including breast, bowel and kidney cancer.
Doctors who are treating an increasing number of obese patients with bariatric surgery in the UAE advocate a balanced diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables to maintain a healthy weight.
Other advice includes drinking plenty of water, avoiding sugary drinks whilst eating fibre-filled foods like wholegrains and cutting down on junk food.
Data from Cancer Research UK suggests 74 per cent of millennials in Britain will be obese or overweight by the time they reach middle age - compared with a figure of 54 per cent among the post-war generation.
“The millennial generation is not fully aware of the health implications of poor diet,” said Dr Matto.
“To make them fully aware of the problems associated with it, it is important to have awareness lectures starting from primary school itself.
“The educational institutions should be barred from selling junk food and younger generation should be encouraged to eat healthy.
“Parents should be strict about the child’s diet from an early age and must encourage them to eat healthy.
“Millennials should be educated about the long-term effects caused by an unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle and should be encouraged to make the right choices in order to avoid health issues at an early age.”