Why More and More 15-Year-Olds Look 30, and What We Expect Will Happen Next
By now, everyone has probably noticed that many of today’s 10-year-old children look like teenagers, and so-called middle-aged people look so young that it’s hard to believe! Both of these examples are caused by one thing — acceleration.
Bright Side wants to go a little scientific and find the reason behind why so many kids are growing up early and what problems it may lead to.
What is “acceleration”?
The photo on the left is Marilyn Monroe. Her height was 5’4″. And on the right is Jennifer Lawrence who stands at 5’7″.
- Height: For the past 150 years, humanity has “grown up” dramatically. The average height is 0.3 ft bigger than before. Today, we are about 1 head taller than our ancestors that lived at the end of the 19th century. And the tallest people in the world are the Dutch. There, an average man is 5’8″ tall.
- Puberty starts much earlier. In the 1860s, an average girl would hit puberty at the age of 16.5 and today this number is about 10 years old. The same goes for boys, but they’re usually 1 year behind girls.
- The end of body development happens at the age of 16 in girls and at 18 in boys. Before it was 20 and 22 years old, respectively.
Elena Kuzmina is a Soviet Union actress in the left photo (age 40). On the right is Rachelle Lefevre, a modern Canadian actress (who is the same age).
- We get older significantly later than our ancestors. It may, of course, be connected with the development of medicine and quality food. Today, an elderly person is 65 years old, according to statistics. However, the numbers vary according to the country: in Japan, people are considered old at the age of 76, and in Papua New Guinea, people are old at 45 and a half.
- The reproductive period has become longer due to early puberty. The average age that women have menopause is about 50 years old. There are no big studies proving that menopause starts later now. But some scientists are inclined to think that there are such tendencies.
- The body constitution changes. Before, height increased due to the increase of the lower part of the body. Now, the torso is getting bigger. Women’s pelvises are becoming smaller. Scientists believe that this is an evolutionary change. We make childbirth way easier by doing a c-sections. So, the body adapts.
The theories of technology have an influence on our bodies.
This photo was taken in the ’60s of the 20th century.
One of the most popular opinions is that acceleration is caused by technological advancements of humanity. And they are:
- an increase in daylight hours due to electricity
- an increase in average temperature in houses due to heating
- fast development of medicine
It is believed that all these factors contribute to less wear and tear of the human body. So, the body can spend all of its energy on development instead of fighting physical problems and an aggressive environment. Of course, it’s hard to dispell these arguments but these reasons alone are unlikely to lead to acceleration.
There is also a more worrisome scientific theory. Maybe acceleration is the consequence of endocrine disruptors influence (EDCs).
When these chemicals are in the body, they work like hormones. These synthetic EDCs are found in plastic, personal hygiene products, and even cosmetics. Additionally, they may be used as supplements for some foods.
This acceleration theory does not have any solid proof at the moment.
This is called nutrition theory. The supporters of this theory believe that the reason for acceleration is an overall increase of food quality. Vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid are believed to be the most important factors.
The ingredients of our food have also changed. Today, we eat a lot of food according to statistics.
- In 2014, an average person ate 94 lb of meat, and in the middle of the 20th century, the number was barely as high as 50 lb.
- In the USSR, an average person ate 81 lb of meat, and in 2013, a person from Russia ate 160 lb of meat.
This doesn’t mean you should eat a lot of meat in order to become taller. But it is hard to argue with statistics: in meat, there are nutrients necessary for the healthy development of a young body.
The problems of acceleration
The acceleration process of the modern young generation is quite ambiguous. On the one hand, it is perfectly logical in terms of evolutionary development. But on the other, early development can bring some social problems. We have an example to illustrate this with.
An 11-year-old girl looks like a fully grown woman but her emotional intelligence is still at the child level. This causes psychological problems, and also behavioral ones: the girl has a sexual desire but has no idea what to do about it.
The young generation is also very immature. In the past, people had to grow up much younger than today. The reason for this is simple: life used to be much harder. So people formed their personalities much faster.
Now, there is an imbalance: we quickly grow up physically but psychologically and emotionally we remain children for a very long time. Recently, scientists from Great Britain found out that a person should be considered an adult only at the age of 30. Before this age, very important physiological changes in our brains are still in process. They determine our psyche and behavior.
Everyone knows that a lot of older people criticize the younger generation saying that they want to start their own lives too fast. But there are others who think that it is all natural and we shouldn’t stop nature from doing its job. What is your opinion?