Pig Out Because You’re Poor?Written by Lillian Tram on February 12th, 2013
Ok, maybe not because you are poor, per se, but NPR has a fascinating new article up recently about how evolutionary biologists have determined that people are more likely to pig out – i.e., gain weight – over time during two major periods: recessions, and winter time.
It makes sense when you think about it (and you can read more about it here on NPR’s website), but basically, it all comes down to scarcity. When food and other resources are scarcer, or at the very least when they are perceived to be scarcer, they come up more likely that you will use them to ensure that you survive.
That is, during times when money is tight, or when it’s cold outside and your body automatically switches into self-preservation mode, you become more likely over time to want to spend more money and resources to, as they say, “confront harsh conditions in the near future choose to eat higher-calorie food than they might do otherwise, a response that researchers believe is shaped by the long hand of evolution.”
People tend to seek out high calorie foods during these harsher times, even if they don’t need them on paper (i.e., if you aren’t necessarily affected by the recession, or if you already have heat at home during winter), simply because it is your body’s natural reaction over thousands and thousands of years of evolution to want to improve and ensure good health during what is perceived to be a difficult time and tough external factors placing pressure on you.
What do you guys think about this? On the one hand, it’s amazing evolutionary biology to think about how far we have come as a human race, and in spite of all that progress, how we are still tied to natural evolutionary impulses that guide our behavior in a way we wouldn’t even realize without being studied.
But on the other hand, does this take away all personal responsibility? You know, are they saying “hey, you’re not fat because you have no self control, you’re fat because of evolutionary biology.” Fair? Not fair? Seems like somewhat of a cop out, as interesting as it might be… but then again, I’m no evolutionary biologist! J
So just remember, then, that you may not have yourself to blame if you can’t seem to put down the cake this Valentine’s Day – it’s evolution!