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Studies show increase in weight and drug use among Millennials

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Aden Hizkias
   Staff Writer

There have been many studies done to determine the health and wellness of the Millennial generation, or those born between the 1980s and mid to late 1990s.

A majority of those studies indicate that there has been an undeniable rise in obesity in America.

In 2010, Dr. Shali L. Barkin, Dr. William J. Heerman, Dr. Michael D. Warren and Senior Lecturer Christina Rennhoff conducted a study that looked into trends in weight within the Millennial generation.

Three of the four researchers are doctors, and Rennhoff is a professor from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

They found that thirty states reported one in three children born between 1982 and 1993 are now overweight or obese.

Creating an economic model and used in case studies, they were able to conclude the impact the rise in obesity would have on the Millennials’ lifetime expenses.

Medical expenses for a 20-year-old were presumed to be from $5,340 to $29,460.

According to their model, over the course of a millennials’ lifetime, men will earn around $43 billion less while women will earn $956 billion less due to being overweight.

The four researched further and determined that the growing rate of obesity will negatively impact the economy because of a decline in productivity.

They believe that creating an environmental culture of health can tackle the rise.

“I think it’s a rise in obesity because fast food is much cheaper, and organic food is expensive, and we can’t afford that because we’re college students,” said Kennedy Johnson, a senior, biology major.

While some may attribute alcohol consumption to the rise in obesity, certain studies indicate that drinking has decreased during the rise of the Millennial generation.

According to the 2013 National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), drinking in teens decreased by 34 percent between 1993 and 2013.

It found that the amount of alcohol intake is in fact lower than Generation X; there has been, however, an increase of other drug abuse in the millennial generation.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in 2013 stated that, “male, non-hispanic whites, 18- to 25-year-olds and people living in large metropolitan areas are at the most risk for heroin addiction.”

According to the CDC, heroin addiction spans all genders, races and ages, but the use among Americans aged 18 to 25 has increased 109 percent from 2002-2004 to 2011-2013.

In 2015, Hillary Clinton proposed a $10 billion plan to help addicts and lower incarceration of those using heroin, which she calls a “quiet epidemic.”

Marijuana, which is the dried leaves, stems, flowers and seeds from the hemp plant, cannabis sativa, has also seen an increase in the use by the Millennial generation.

“I think it’s because they believe that it is going to help with stress and make them forget about their problems, and peer pressure,” Johnson said.

The increase can be seen through the states loosening or passing laws that allow the use of marijuana.

Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C. currently have legalized marijuana in some form. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington legalized recreational marijuana.

Those four states, along with some others which include California, Hawaii and Connecticut, have legalized medical marijuana.

In 2013, the National Institute on Drug Abuse found 22.6 percent of 18 to 20 year olds reported using an illicit drug within a single month.

In that same year, there were about 19.8 million users, a 7.5 percent increase in those age 12 and older from 2007.

Stimulants like adderall have seen an increased use within this generation, especially within the university campuses.

The Clinton Foundation has researched the consumption of prescription stimulants and have found that it has increased from 5 million to 45 million within the past 20 years.

The result has also increased in spending of up to $200 billion.

The reported effects of Adderall are better focus and suppressed appetites; within campus life, it is often reported that students use the prescription drug in order to perform long hours of uninterrupted work.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulty controlling behavior and inability to focus among others.

ADHD diagnosis rates increased an average of 3 percent per year from 1997 to 2006.

Opioid pain reliever overdoses have also increased during the Millennial era with a 250 percent increase for men and 415 percent increase for women between 1999 and 2010, according to the CDC.

In recent years, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has concluded that controlled prescription drugs have increased every year since 2002.

From reportings, abuse of controlled prescription pills have increased in comparison to cocaine, methylene-dioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) and methamphetamine.

Generation Y in America has affected the increase in obesity and drug abuse apart from alcohol.

The CDC has tried to counteract this with the Take-Back Day initiative in saying “no to drugs,” while political figures like the current first-lady, Michelle Obama, who has started the “Let’s Move” campaign to help the next generation be a healthier one.

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