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01st Jul 2018

This type of work means millennials could have worse health than parents, study says

James Dawson

Research has found people in their 20s and 30s are on course to be the first generation to face greater health risks from cancers, diabetes and heart disease than their parents

Young people will be at greater risk of “lifestyle illnesses such as cancers, diabetes and heart disease” in 30 years time and could be the first generation to have poorer health than their parents, according to new research.

The Health Foundation report found that the rise of insecure working and living arrangements means Gen Z faces greater long-term stress, anxiety and depression – as well as illnesses such as cancers, diabetes and heart disease – in middle age.

In particular, the report notes that unstable employment and overcrowded housing can increase stress and mental health problems. Saying that, in turn, the problems fuel lifestyle-related diseases such as cancer and heart disease, as lower living standards often trigger “unhealthy behaviours such as smoking and alcohol consumption”.

The rise of the so-called “gig economy” means that younger workers increasingly find themselves in precarious working situations – with workers forced to undertake short-term, casual and self-employed work, as apposed to long-term stable employment.

Comment on the findings, Jo Bibby, director of health at the Health Foundation, said: “Young people today are facing pressures that are very different to those of previous generations. This new research demonstrates that many young people in the UK are not getting the support they need to make a smooth transition into adult life. This support is vital to securing the building blocks they need for a healthy future. Without it we are putting their future health at risk.

“We hope that the work of the inquiry over the coming months will help us understand the reasons for this and identify the changes needed to address this worrying trend.”

While Unite’s assistant general secretary, Steve Turner, told that the research showed a worrying trend in working habits for young people and the potential effect on their health.

He added: “The findings of this report are all too predictable. The simple message is that bad work in whatever form makes you ill. Long hours and shocking working conditions cause immediate and long-term health issues.

“This report is yet another reason why we need a root and branch reform of the so-called gig economy to end workplace exploitation and that employers are not able to boost their profits at the cost of workers long-term physical and mental health.”

The research comes after it was revealed by the Office for National Statistics earlier this year that millennials are also more likely to suffer from chronic loneliness than any other age group.