Showing posts with label carbohydrates. Show all posts
Showing posts with label carbohydrates. Show all posts

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Is obesity bias evolutionary?

On the Huffington Post and on his own blog, David Katz, MD, asks the important question why so many people are obese nowadays. His answer does not sound convincing, he argues that there a bias toward obesity is an evolutionary advantage.

This might have been possible, but a simple calculation shows that this is unlikely. A man who is 100 kg too heavy and 50 years old, to a first approximation ate 2 kg per year too much. Two kilograms of fat is 1400 Cal and thus comparable to what one eats in 4 days to one week, depending on your, height, weight and level of activity. In other words, this man ate only about one or two percent more than he should have. You may increase this number somewhat to account for the fact that a larger body also needs more energy. Still the additional amount eaten by an overweight person is small and will be hardly noticeable in day life.

In the times that humans were hunters and gatherers, it should have been easily possible to eat a few percent more than usual. The year to year variability in the availability of resources is large; on the negative side think for instance of floods, droughts and grasshopper plagues. A human that is able to survive in a bad year, should easily be able to hunt or gather double his need in good years. One would expect the maximum amount of food a person can find is much more than a few percent more than the average needed. Otherwise, a human with a bit of bad luck would soon starve to death and be removed from the gene pool.