Millennials are on course to be the fattest generation since records began, a charity has warned.
Seven in ten adults born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s will be overweight or obese before they reach middle age, it predicted.
Cancer Research UK said this compares with only five in ten baby boomers – which it defined as those born between 1945 and 1955 – who were overweight or obese between the ages of 35 and 44.
The proportion of millennials who will be overweight between 35 and 44 would also be significantly higher than the 63 % of adults of all ages who currently fall into these categories.
The charity is launching a campaign to warn that obesity is a major cause of cancer.
Being overweight or obese as an adult is linked to 13 types of cancer, including breast, bowel, ovarian, kidney and liver.
Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention, said: ‘Being overweight is the UK’s biggest cause of cancer after smoking, but most people don’t know about this substantial risk. If more people become aware of the link it may help spare not just millennials, but all generations from cancer.’ Professor Linda Bauld, another of the charity’s experts, said: ‘Clever marketing tactics by the food industry and greater access to unhealthy food are all likely to have contributed to the rise in obesity rates.
‘Extra body fat doesn’t just sit there; it sends messages around the body that can cause damage to cells. This damage can build up over time and increase the risk of cancer in the same way that damage from smoking causes cancer.
‘While these estimates sound bleak, we can stop them becoming a reality. Millennials are known for following seemingly healthy food trends, but nothing beats a balanced diet.’
Scientists at Cancer Research UK based their projection that 70 per cent of millennials will be overweight or obese between 35 and 44 on past trends. These show how the proportion of fat 35 to 44 year olds has been gradually increasing over time.
Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said the estimates were ‘horrifying.’
He added: ‘They are the result of successive governments paying only lip-service to tackling an obesity crisis which was already headlines ten years ago.’