Ancient famine-fighting genes can't explain obesity | Science News

ADVERTISEMENT

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Science News is a nonprofit.

Help us keep you informed.


Feature

Ancient famine-fighting genes can't explain obesity

Scientists look beyond calorie-hoarding genes to understand widening waistlines

By
2:00pm, September 5, 2014

ANCIENT GENES, MODERN MEALS  Research is starting to poke holes in the hypothesis that calorie-hoarding genes are causing the obesity crisis.

The obesity crisis has given prehistoric dining a stardom not known since Fred Flintstone introduced the Bronto Burger. Last year, “Paleo diet” topped the list of most-Googled weight loss searches, as modern Stone Age dieters sought the advice of bestsellers like The Paleo Solution or The Primal Blueprint, which encourages followers to “honor your primal genes.”

The assumption is that America has a weight problem because human metabolism runs on ancient genes that are ill equipped for contemporary eating habits. In this line of thinking, a diet true to the hunter-gatherers we once were — heavy on protein, light on carbs — will make us skinny again. While the fad has attracted skepticism from those who don’t buy the idea whole hog, there’s still plenty of acceptance for one common premise about the evolution of obesity: Our bodies want to stockpile fat.

For most of human history, the theory goes, hunter

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content