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The Evolution of Obesity


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Compelling, well written, and brimming with fascinating facts and observations. With its broadly comparative perspective and holistic focus, this is an important and unique contribution to the obesity literature that challenges conventional assumptions about the disease and its origins. -- Chris Kuzawa, Northwestern University

Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction: Human Biology, Evolution, and Obesity1. Humanity on the Fat Track2. Our Early Ancestors3. The Evolution of Meals4. Evolution, Adaptation, and Human Obesity5. Evolutions, Adaptation, and the Perils of Modern Life6. Energy, Metabolism, and the Thermodynamics of Life7. Information Molecules and the Peptide Revolution8. Appetite and Satiety9. Getting Ready to Eat10. The Paradox of Feeding11. The Biology of Fat12. Fat and Reproduction13. Genetic and Epigenetic Correlates of ObesityConclusion: Surviving the Perils of Modern LifeReferencesIndex

About the Author

Michael L. Power is a senior research associate at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a research associate at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Jay Schulkin is director of the research department at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a research professor in Georgetown University's Department of Neuroscience. Power and Schulkin are the coauthors of The Evolution of the Human Placenta, also published by Johns Hopkins.


Michael L. Power and Jay Schulkin take a frankly Darwinian approach... The evolutionary account of obesity is a powerful one-indeed, almost too powerful. -- Elizabeth Colbert * New Yorker *
Elbowing the weight-loss guides on 'health' bookshelves, is a spate of new, more diet-neutral books that track the sociology of obesity, including... The Evolution of Obesity. -- Mandy Katz * New York Times *
Goes far beyond anything else that is available on obesity... Power and Schulkin deserve much credit for their bold attempt to combine evolutionary and reductionist explanations, and for their unflinching acknowledgment of complexity. * Nature *
An excellent and comprehensive explanation for the increased incidence of obesity... Power and Schulkin suggest that there is a mismatch between our evolved biology and our modern life-the advantages of fat storage in the past have become disadvantages today.... This informative and easily read book is an important companion for students, fellows, and clinicians who wish to understand the causes of the obesity epidemic and how obesity might lead to metabolic disease. * New England Journal of Medicine *
This will be an extremely useful introduction for graduate and undergraduate students and for mainstream researchers to set the wealth of endocrine and metabolic data connected with obesity into a wider framework of understanding. -- John Speakman * Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism *
Power and Schulkin look for the origins of obesity in our evolutionary past... They stress the complexity of obesity's origin and caution against simplistic solutions, especially biomedical therapies for obesity that often have unintended adverse effects. Their goal is to elucidate the biological roots of weight gain, not make policy recommendations. -- Nicholas Freudenberg * Lancet *
Power and Schulkin argue that our present-day obesity crisis is the consequence of a 'mismatch' between our biology and the environment in which we live... It is in the detail of its explanation that their study excels. -- Wendy Mitchinson, Ph.D. * Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences *
While obesity may lead to pathology, and even be viewed as pathology, its biological underpinnings likely helped enable human evolution, say Power, a nutrition and metabolism researcher at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, and Schulkin, a behavioral neuroscientist with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. -- Lynne Lamberg * Wilson Quarterly *
A well written and scholarly tome with many fascinating observations and findings that highlight the many biological challenges to effective weight control in a modern society with a very efficient food delivery system. The breadth of scholarship is impressive and well documents in detail why humans are becoming obese. -- Randall C. Flanery * PsycCRITIQUES *

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