London: Forty-nine is the age that people are labeled old and may be ostracised by wider society, according to a new UK study on ageism.
Experts said they were surprised and shocked by the results, which could point to major social problems in the future.
‘On average people stated that youth ends at 49, which is a lot lower than we’d expected,’ said Professor Dominic Abrams of the University of Kent, who led the study of 1,900 people. ‘This goes to show that ageism is a big problem in Britain. We found that people’s attitudes to the older generation are extremely harmful.’
Researchers found that ageism was the most common prejudice in Britain, and Professor Abrams believes it is leading to the over-49s being ostracised by wider society. ‘I think the older generation are suffering badly, in terms of employment and their status. They are seen as being incompetent but nice, rather like children, and that has to change.’
However, the researchers did find that age is in the eye of the beholder. ‘It became apparent that people’s perception depended a lot on what task was being done – for instance 70 per cent of people were happy to have a boss over 70, whereas 45 per cent of people said they thought ‘old’ people were not suited to menial jobs – nobody wanted to see a 70-year-old teaboy.’
Psychologists today claimed the new research was extremely worrying for the older generation.
‘People are going to be left with a feeling they are written off at 49, and that is not good when they have so much of their life left,’ said psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos.
‘The problem is that we are bombarded with images of youth all the time. Plastic surgery has also led to the ideal being a young body, and the break-up of the traditional family also means we no longer think of the distinguished old aunt doling out her wisdom.
‘These days we share flats with friends who become our extended family instead, so we lose that older role model. I think this could cause society major problems in the future – the British population is getting older, so there could be a lot of people alienated by these attitudes.’
l A revolutionary new weight- loss drug based on cannabis has been unveiled by British researchers. They say it can drastically reduce waist size with no adverse side-effects and it could be tested on humans within a year.
Professor Roger Pertwee of the University of Aberdeen said the drug, THCV, reverses cannabis’s ability to cause the ‘munchies’ – a craving for food. ‘We found we can reverse the ‘munchie’ effect to cause appetite to be suppressed, and to halt the process that lays down abdominal fat.’