The Evolution of Obesity

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JHU Press, Dec 29, 2010 - Science - 408 pages
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In this sweeping exploration of the relatively recent obesity epidemic, Michael L. Power and Jay Schulkin probe evolutionary biology, history, physiology, and medical science to uncover the causes of our growing girth. The unexpected answer? Our own evolutionary success.

For most of the past few million years, our evolutionary ancestors' survival depended on being able to consume as much as possible when food was available and to store the excess energy for periods when it was scarce. In the developed world today, high-calorie foods are readily obtainable, yet the propensity to store fat is part of our species' heritage, leaving an increasing number of the world's people vulnerable to obesity. In an environment of abundant food, we are anatomically, physiologically, metabolically, and behaviorally programmed in a way that makes it difficult for us to avoid gaining weight.

Power and Schulkin’s engagingly argued book draws on popular examples and sound science to explain our expanding waistlines and to discuss the consequences of being overweight for different demographic groups. They review the various studies of human and animal fat use and storage, including those that examine fat deposition and metabolism in men and women; chronicle cultural differences in food procurement, preparation, and consumption; and consider the influence of sedentary occupations and lifestyles.

A compelling and comprehensive examination of the causes and consequences of the obesity epidemic, The Evolution of Obesity offers fascinating insights into the question, Why are we getting fatter?


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The evolution of obesity

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How are metabolism, physiology, and behavior linked to obesity? Power and Schulkin-researchers at the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists and coeditors of Birth, Distress, and Disease ... Read full review

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Human Biology Evolution and Obesity
1 Humanity on the Fat Track
2 Our Early Ancestors
3 The Evolution of Meals
4 Evolution Adaptation and Human Obesity
5 Evolution Adaptation and the Perils of Modern Life
6 Energy Metabolism and the Thermodynamics of Life
7 Information Molecules and the Peptide Revolution
9 Getting Ready to Eat
10 The Paradox of Feeding
11 The Biology of Fat
12 Fat and Reproduction
13 Genetic and Epigenetic Correlates of Obesity
Surviving the Perils of Modern Life

8 Appetite and Satiety

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About the author (2010)

Michael L. Power is a senior research associate at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a research associate at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Jay Schulkin is director of the research department at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a research professor in Georgetown University's Department of Neuroscience. Power and Schulkin are the coauthors of The Evolution of the Human Placenta, also published by Johns Hopkins.

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