Roles of diet, energy expenditures in rising obesity rates to be presented at AAAS meeting

Published on February 18, 2013 at 6:11 AM · No Comments

William Leonard has conducted extensive research on the diets and ways of prehistoric populations. A paper on his research will be presented Friday, Feb. 15, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The research shows that the transition from subsistence to a modern, sedentary lifestyle has created energy imbalances that have increased rapidly -- evolutionarily speaking -- in recent years and now play a major role in obesity.

Leonard, chair and professor of anthropology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, was scheduled to present his research. However, in his absence, the presentation of his paper, -Metabolic Challenges of the Modern World: Evolution and Human Nutritional Health,- will be given by his colleague. The presentation is part of the symposium -The Scars of Human Evolution- to be held from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Room 302 of Boston-s Hynes Convention Center.

The presenter will discuss Leonard-s work examining the evolutionary origins of human dietary and activity patterns and their implications for understanding modern health problems. Drawing on data from the U.S. and traditional, subsistence-level societies, the presenter will examine the roles of both diet and energy expenditure in contributing to the rising obesity rates in the modern world.

Over the last 25 years, evolutionary perspectives on human dietary consumption and nutritional health have received greater attention among both anthropologists and nutritional scientists. Humans have evolved distinctive nutritional characteristics associated with the high metabolic costs of our large brains.

-The evolution of larger hominid brain size necessitated the development of foraging strategies that both provided high quality foods and required larger ranges and activity budgets,- Leonard said.

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