As part of the Harvard Thinks Big lecture series, Daniel Lieberman (Professor and Chair of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard) presents this talk on energy imbalance.
Here are a few take-aways:
- Being overweight or obese is a symptom of long-term energy imbalance. Today’s energy intake is 300-900 calories higher than that of our great grandparents.
- It was only about 600 generations ago that we started farming; it was only about 10 generations ago that we developed industrial manufacturing.
- “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”
- “All humans are obese from the perspective of a chimpanzee” (chimps have ~5% body fat).
- Since we cannot change our biology (yet), we need to change our environments.
- Drugs and medical procedures treat the symptoms of obesity, but not the underlying causes (energy imbalance). We have taken to treating the suffering without lessening the prevalence (which is an expensive path to take).
- In pre-historic times, humans had to exercise and had to eat wild foods. Perhaps things are not so different these days…