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Why people used to look older: scientists explained the phenomenon

Yulia PoteriankoLife
In vintage photographs, people seem older to us than their contemporary peers

How many times have you flipped through old family photo albums or watched black-and-white movies and found yourself thinking that the people in these pictures look much older than their modern peers? But why is this so?

According to IFL Science, blogger Michael Stevens, who runs the educational YouTube channel Vsauce, tried to figure it out. And he found a whole list of factors that could influence this process.

According to his data, the rate of human aging has indeed changed over the past 100 years due to the growth of the overall level of prosperity, improved healthcare, and lifestyle choices. Of course, they are all different in various parts of the world and among people with different incomes and jobs. But the general trend can be traced quite clearly.

This topic was also studied by a team of researchers who published the results of their work in 2018. They analyzed changes associated with biological aging, such as blood pressure and lung function, depending on chronological age between 1988 and 2010. It turned out that even in this rather short period, the differences were significant. Those born later aged more slowly than their predecessors at the same age. "Over the past 20 years, the biological age of the U.S. population appears to have decreased for men and women across the age range," the authors noted.

However, they pointed out that the degree of change was not the same for men and women or by age. For example, young men experienced a more marked slowdown in aging compared to young women. This may explain why mortality at a young age is declining more rapidly for men than for women. In addition, improvements were more significant for the elderly than for young people.

The study paid special attention to lifestyle factors, such as smoking, which partly explains why the gap between the biological ages of men and women has narrowed: men have started to smoke less, and women have almost caught up with them in this regard. The use of medications to improve health has also had an impact.

However many factors still went unnoticed by the researchers. For example, they were unable to test for improved living conditions in early life and before birth, as well as a reduction in the incidence of infectious diseases. While these factors may play a role in why people from the past look older to us, there is more to it than that.

According to blogger Vsauce, along with better dental care and sunscreen use, our bias towards the fashion of previous decades may be an important factor. We often psychologically associate such things with older age. This can be explained by the example of a shirt that your father has been wearing since 1972. We retroactively associate it with old age, even when we look at photos of objectively young people in 1972 wearing the same shirt.

Earlier, OBOZREVATEL reported that scientists have revealed an important secret of people's attractiveness.

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