Gen X, Gen Y and now Generation XL?
from The Fresno Bee - by Diane Stafford McClatchy Newspaper
Every generation gets a label: "The Greatest," "The Baby Boom," "Gen X," "Gen Y."
So the youngest Americans might want to hire a public relations expert. Or a personal trainer.
Generation XL - as in Extra Large - is in the running to become an appellation for those born since the the early 1990s.
In some communities, up to one-third of today's children and teens are overweight. That's double the percentage of fat kids in the early 1970s.
Health experts agree that today's youths sit in front of TV and computer screens too much and eat too much junk food.
In short, the generation is in danger of being branded with a derogatory label. Books, newspaper articles and TV shows have begun using it.
According to lexicographers, the earliest reference to "Generation XL" was a prescient comment from a sportswriter in 1995.
Writing about baseball, Bob Molinaro of The Virginian-Pilot made the waggish comment that "if researchers are correct that people in their 20s today - the so-called Generation X - are heavier and less physically active than people in that age group five to 10 years ago, that would make them Generation XL, wouldn't it?"
The term didn't gain traction until the dot-com explosion. In the Y2K frenzy, Silicon Valley denizens, then twentysomething computer whiz kids, started talking about the new version of the "freshman 15," the weight gain traditionally associated with dorm food.They started calling themselves Gen XL for the "programmer 20" pounds they added at their 24-7 desk jobs.
By 2003, Generation XL had migrated down to the younger set, spawning hand-wringing about the growing "obesity epidemic."
It wasn't unfounded concern. Fat children are more likely to become fat adults, and more likely to have health problems and drive up health care costs.
In 2007, Joseph Mercola and Ben Lerner, two doctors, teamed up to write "Generation XL: Raising Healthy, Intelligent Kids in a High-Tech, Junk-Food World." The title placed the fat blame where it belongs.
Paul Ehrmann, a physician and founder of the Children's Health Initiative Program, a nonprofit, community-based program to encourage healthy habits, followed this year with "Generation XL: The Childhood Obesity Pandemic."
Demographers haven't decided on a definitive end birth date for Generation Y. It's not exactly clear when the youngest generation began, and what to call it remains up in the air.
Some had expected the next population group to be dubbed Gen Z, a natural progression from X and Y. But the Xbox kids - whose most active body parts are their thumbs - have redirected that thought.
Now, pundits are suggesting the youngest generation is "a terrible thing to waist."
Others are prompting that Generation XL could become Generation Excel - if they'd just go outside and play.