The evolution of obesity: thrifty or drifty?
Episode 15 – by Lesley Evans Ogden (click here to directly access the MP3)
The media is flooded with claims about the latest miracle food, exercises guaranteed to make you lean, and a plethora of advice on weight loss. But have you ever stepped back and thought about why humans store fat in the 1st place?
Fat storage is critical in the human body. Fat is a major constituent of the membranes of our cells. And our brains are full of fat, since it’s an important component of brain cells, known as neurons.
For most of human evolution, excessive human body fat has been relatively uncommon.
Listen to find out why…
More information about the Evolution of Obesity
Prentice, A.M., B.J. Hennig, and A.J. Fulford. (2008). Evolutionary origins of the obesity epidemic: natural selection of thrifty genes or genetic drift following predation release? International Journal of Obesity 32: 1607-1610. doi:10.1038/ijo.2008.147
Speakman, J.R. (2008). Thrifty genes for obesity, an attractive but flawed idea, and an alternative perspective: the ‘drifty gene’ hypothesis. International Journal of Obesity. 32, 1611–1617; doi:10.1038/ijo.2008.161.
Power, M.L. and J. Schulkin. (2009). The Evolution of Obesity. Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, MD.
Wells, J.C.K. (2009). The Evolutionary Biology of Human Body Fatness: Thrift and Control. Cambridge University Press.
Lesley Evans Ogden, PhD is a freelance science journalist based in Vancouver, BC. Trained as a wildlife ecologist researching the ecology and conservation of migratory birds, she now writes about animal behaviour, ecology, wildlife conservation, green innovation, sustainability, health and fitness. Lesley is an alumna of the 2011 Banff Science Communications Program. More of her writing can be found at lesleyevansogden.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ljevanso.