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The domestication of humans: poor diet and exercise causing human evolution to favor early obesity


Evolution

(NaturalNews) The waistlines of American children have been expanding for more than 20 years, and modern science claims that it doesn't really know why. But new research published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings strongly suggests that a phenomenon known as non-genetic evolution, or the passing down of fat-prone behaviors and characteristics from parents to their children, may be to blame.

Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham's School of Public Health explain that childhood obesity is caused by a whole lot more than just sedentary behavior and poor diet. This explanation is too simplistic, they claim, and fails to acknowledge how social and cultural changes have led to what Edward Archer, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the school, describes as "the competitive dominance of fat cells."

Fat cells winning competition with muscle cells due to pre-pregnancy sedentary lifestyle changes in how people lived as far back as the 1960s kick-started the trend towards obesity that we are witnessing today. Because mothers began engaging in increasingly less physical activity during this time, their metabolisms during pregnancy began to change, altering how fat and muscle cells express themselves and utilize energy. You can think of it in terms of the domestication of animals like pigs and cows, which when confined to pens and fed grains all day become lazy and fat.

"Beginning in the 1960s, mothers became increasingly physically inactive, sedentary and heavier. This altered their bodies' metabolism during pregnancy," explains Archer. "With less competition between fat and muscle cells due to inactivity, more energy was available to increase the number of fat cells in their unborn children. The result was a dramatic increase in the risk of obesity and disease in infants and children."

Triad of findings help to explain rampant childhood obesity

Using a meta-theoretic analysis, Archer and his colleagues came up with three main findings that help explain why childhood obesity is rampant in today's world, afflicting more than one third of all children and adolescents, according to 2012 data. These findings are as follows:

1. Fat cells have progressively evolved to out-compete other tissues in the body for energy derived from food. Based on the theory of non-genetic evolution, this is largely due to the fact that children's parents were sedentary and had poor diets, passing down the evolutionary traits brought about by this lifestyle to their children.

2. How a child's mother ate, exercised, and lived her life prior to becoming pregnant can make all the difference in how her child turns out. The evolutionary consequences of a mother's behaviors and lifestyle habits directly affect her children's metabolisms, including their risk of disease development. These risks are also passed down to grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.

3. Some mothers have evolved so far past the "metabolic tipping point" that their children are almost guaranteed to be fat. Such children will have to work very hard and abide by a strict and disciplined diet in order to even have a chance at staying slim and in shape.

Mothers need to be physically active, eat healthy during puberty to give their children the best chance at a healthy life"My paper demonstrates that gluttony and sloth are not the primary determinants of obesity, and hopefully it will dispel the ignorance that causes good-hearted people to mistakenly think that a child is obese because of a lack of willpower, or because his or her mother does not care enough to provide proper food," says Archer.

"Willpower and good intentions cannot compete with evolution."

Would-be mothers, says Archer, need to focus on eating right, exercising, and taking care of themselves long before getting pregnant in order to stem the overwhelming tide of evolved childhood obesity. Prenatal care is important as well, but these learned behaviors need to start much earlier, perhaps when a would-be mother is still going through puberty.

"Evolution is the cause, and active moms are the cure," concludes Archer. "Only mothers have the power to change the evolution of obesity."

Sources for this article include:

http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org

http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/626337

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