Pub. Date:
Johns Hopkins University Press
The Evolution of Obesity

The Evolution of Obesity

by Michael L. Power, Jay Schulkin
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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?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421409603
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 02/01/2013
Pages: 408
Product dimensions: 8.80(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

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.

Table of Contents

Preface vii

Introduction: Human Biology, Evolution, and Obesity 1

1 Humanity on the Fat Track 21

2 Our Early Ancestors 45

3 The Evolution of Meals 68

4 Evolution, Adaptation, and Human Obesity 90

5 Evolution, Adaptation, and the Perils of Modern Life 111

6 Energy, Metabolism, and the Thermodynamics of Life 136

7 Information Molecules and the Peptide Revolution 163

8 Appetite and Satiety 186

9 Getting Ready to Eat 206

10 The Paradox of Feeding 226

11 The Biology of Fat 244

12 Fat and Reproduction 265

13 Genetic and Epigenetic Correlates of Obesity 292

Conclusion: Surviving the Perils of Modern Life 317

References 331

Index 383

What People are Saying About This

Chris Kuzawa

Compelling, well written, and brimming with fascinating facts and observations. With its broadly comparative perspective and holistic focus, this is an important and unique contribution to the obesity literature that challenges conventional assumptions about the disease and its origins.

Chris Kuzawa, Northwestern University

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