Worries about the economy and healthcare are pushing people into middle age earlier, making 35 the new 40, according to a new report.
Research by the Philips Centre for Health and Well-Being showed that 40 was previously widely considered as the milestone that defined middle age but this has been lowered to 35.
"Thirty five is the new 40 as Americans feel the pressures of middle age earlier than ever," the Amsterdam-based centre said in a statement.
Stress comes earlier
Katy Hartley, the director of the centre which aims to improve quality of life, said stress about the economy and healthcare that you would typically associate with turning 40 is starting at a younger age.
"The data suggests the new age for middle age is 35," she said in an interview.
Nearly 80% of 35 year olds questioned for the Philips Index said they were concerned about the economy, and three-quarters were also worried about healthcare. These stresses, according to the study, have contributed to the feeling of early onset of middle age or the loss of five years of youth.
Money the top stressor
The report showed the economy topped the list of stressors at 74%, which was nearly double from a 2004 survey.
A nearly equal amount said they feel positive about their overall health and well-being. Many, however, may not be realistic about health: Of the Americans surveyed, only 39% considered themselves to be overweight, compared to a report by the National Centre for Health Statistics which showed that 67% of Americans are overweight or obese. The data, said Hartley, seems to support the notion that Americans seem to accept being overweight as normal.
66% wanted to exercise more
Despite the claims of good health, only 51% think they are as fit as they could be, and 66% wished they exercised more.
When they do get sick, more than half of those questioned for the index said a doctor would be their first choice for getting information, followed by the Internet. "The role of doctors remains important," said Hartley.
But most people seek the company of family and friends to improve their health and well being, while job and salary were far less important.
"Initially it looks fine. We all feel great about our health and well being. I think when you dig a level deeper that Americans are struggling to balance spending time with their family, with their jobs, with the economy and with stress levels," said Hartley. - (Reuters Health, January 2010)