The Evolution of Obesity

JHU Press
Free sample

In this sweeping exploration of the relatively recent obesity epidemic, Michael L. Power and Jay Schulkin probe evolutionary biology, history, physiology, and medical science to uncover the causes of our growing girth. The unexpected answer? Our own evolutionary success.

For most of the past few million years, our evolutionary ancestors' survival depended on being able to consume as much as possible when food was available and to store the excess energy for periods when it was scarce. In the developed world today, high-calorie foods are readily obtainable, yet the propensity to store fat is part of our species' heritage, leaving an increasing number of the world's people vulnerable to obesity. In an environment of abundant food, we are anatomically, physiologically, metabolically, and behaviorally programmed in a way that makes it difficult for us to avoid gaining weight.

Power and Schulkin’s engagingly argued book draws on popular examples and sound science to explain our expanding waistlines and to discuss the consequences of being overweight for different demographic groups. They review the various studies of human and animal fat use and storage, including those that examine fat deposition and metabolism in men and women; chronicle cultural differences in food procurement, preparation, and consumption; and consider the influence of sedentary occupations and lifestyles.

A compelling and comprehensive examination of the causes and consequences of the obesity epidemic, The Evolution of Obesity offers fascinating insights into the question, Why are we getting fatter?

Read more

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.

Read more
Loading...

Additional Information

Publisher
JHU Press
Read more
Published on
Dec 29, 2010
Read more
Pages
408
Read more
ISBN
9781421400037
Read more
Language
English
Read more
Genres
Medical / History
Medical / Nutrition
Medical / Public Health
Science / Life Sciences / Biology
Science / Life Sciences / Evolution
Read more
Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
Read more
Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
Read more

Reading information

Smartphones and Tablets

Install the Google Play Books app for Android and iPad/iPhone. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are.

Laptops and Computers

You can read books purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.

eReaders and other devices

To read on e-ink devices like the Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.
After drawing its first breath, every newborn mammal turns his or her complete attention to obtaining milk. This primal act was once thought to stem from a basic fact: milk provides the initial source of calories and nutrients for all mammalian young. But it turns out that milk is a much more complicated biochemical cocktail and provides benefits beyond nutrition. In this fascinating book, biologists Michael L. Power and Jay Schulkin reveal this liquid’s evolutionary history and show how its ingredients have changed over many millions of years to become a potent elixir. Power and Schulkin walk readers through the early origins of the mammary gland and describe the incredible diversification of milk among the various mammalian lineages.

After revealing the roots of lactation, the authors describe the substances that naturally occur in milk and discuss their biological functions. They reveal that mothers pass along numerous biochemical signals to their babies through milk. The authors explain how milk boosts an infant’s immune system, affects an infant’s metabolism and physiology, and helps inoculate and feed the baby’s gut microbiome.

Throughout the book, the authors weave in stories from studies of other species, explaining how comparative research sheds light on human lactation. The authors then turn their attention to the fascinating topic of cross-species milk consumption—something only practiced by certain humans who evolved an ability to retain lactase synthesis into adulthood. The first book to discuss milk from a comparative and evolutionary perspective, Power and Schulkin’s masterpiece reveals the rich biological story of the common thread that connects all mammals.

As the active interface of the most biologically intimate connection between two living organisms, a mother and her fetus, the placenta is crucial to human evolution and survival. Michael L. Power and Jay Schulkin explore the more than 100 million years of evolution that led to the human placenta and, in so doing, they help unravel the mysteries of human life's first moments.

Starting with some of the earliest events that have influenced the path of placental evolution in mammals and progressing to the specifics of the human placenta, this book examines modern gestation within an evolutionary framework. Human beings are a successful species and our numbers have increased dramatically since our earliest days on Earth. However, human fetal development is fraught with poor outcomes for both the mother and fetus that appear to be, if not unique, far more common in humans than in other mammals. High rates of early pregnancy loss, nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, preeclampsia and related maternal hypertension, and preterm birth are rare or absent in other mammals yet not unusual in humans.

Power and Schulkin explain why this apparent contradiction exists and address such topics as how the placenta regulates and coordinates the metabolism, growth, and development of both mother and fetus, the placenta’s role in protecting a fetus from the mother’s immune system, and placental diseases. In the process, they reveal the vital importance of this organ—which is composed mostly of fetal cells—for us as individuals and as a species.

-- Errol R. Norwitz, Tufts University School of Medicine and Tufts Medical Center
©2018 GoogleSite Terms of ServicePrivacyDevelopersArtistsAbout Google|Location: United StatesLanguage: English (United States)
By purchasing this item, you are transacting with Google Payments and agreeing to the Google Payments Terms of Service and Privacy Notice.