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For the past 40 years, everyone has been trying to track the trends and buying habits of the baby boomers.

Just because there are 77 million of them out there, they're all we hear about. The baby boomers are entering school. The baby boomers are starting families. The baby boomers are having plastic credit card implants in both hands.If you're as breathless about their next move as I am, you should know that any minute now they will stop eating garlic bread and move on to English muffins.

Most of the habits of these people born from 1949 to 1965 are based on the history of those who are older than they are. As they move from one decade to the next, it's relatively easy to trace where they will spend their money and what they will be putting into their shopping carts.

Publishers of magazines, car manufacturers, lending institutions, insurance companies, colleges and producers of consumer products hover over them like hawks, waiting to see where they can clean up on the next trend.

Well, forget the year 2000, when it is predicted that baby boomers will buy bug spray, cleaning products to save them time, bran laxatives and environment-friendly cloth trash bags. I have seen their future - and I'm it! And my insider's tip is, "Buy elastic!"

By the year 2000, we're going to have 77 million people looking for their waistlines. The zippers that used to slide up and down easily will no longer come together.

The thirtysomethings who bought a Stairmaster after the birth of each baby could climb Mount Everest and still wouldn't lose a pound. Never before in the history of the world will we have 77 million people retaining water at the same time. Everything will have elastic: waistbands on slacks and skirts, belts, bathing suits, diapers, fanny packs, even pantyhose.

I know you think they have elastic now, but in the future I'm talking about elastic that gives.

It is predicted that dieting will still be a major trend. Think about it. Here's a generation born to skim milk, sent to camps for the overweight in grade school, weaned on gyms, food pouches, powdered formulas and quick-weight-loss programs, seduced by marathons and 10 K's, and who invented a whole new vocabulary, including "lite," "non-cholesterol," "no fat or caffeine," "reduced calories" and "less filling."

Don't tell me they're not going to kick back finally and let it all hang out. Buy elastic!"