Human Evolution NOT Ready for Fast Food

Health News and Commentary

Scientists Say Human Evolution Can't Cope with Fast Food

Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce. On second thought, hold the entire Happy Meal. That's what we should be doing if we care about our health, according to scientists whose research shows that human evolution has not made us equipped to handle "calorie-packed" fast foods.

Nutrition experts Professor Andrew Prentice and Dr Susan Jebb point out that that "humans are designed for conditions in which food is relatively scarce and low in energy." But, because fast food is typically "energy dense," we don't need to eat much of it to consume a lot of calories. "The result is people accidentally over-eat without feeling particularly full."

Prentice and Jebb identified this problem posed by fast food by combining British and African diet study data with information on the ingredients in fast food.

According to Prentice, who is head of the Medical Research Council's International Nutrition Group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, "We all possess a weak innate ability to recognise foods with a high energy density. We tend to assess food intake by the size of the portion, yet a fast food meal contains many more calories than a similar-sized portion of a healthy meal. Since the dawn of agriculture, the systems regulating human appetite have evolved for the low energy diet still being consumed in rural areas of the developing world where obesity is almost non-existent.

Our bodies were not designed to cope with the very energy dense foods consumed in the West and this is contributing to a major rise in obesity."

For more on this story, see:

[Comment: Obesity is only one of many major health conditions that can result from a steady diet of fast foods.]

Thanks to The Health Plus Letter, Vol. 1, No. 14, 10/03

Kids CAN Be Taught to Eat Right

Pediatrics, 6/05

"Western' Diet May Lead to ADHD Healthy and Green Living section, July 2010

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