This was the title of a talk by the world-renowned Cambridge-based genetic scientist Dr Giles Yeo that we were privileged to have talk to the group.
Being overweight or obese carries a lot of stigma in our society, seen as people who can’t control what they eat, who make poor choices, are lazy etc. But what Giles explains is that we evolved to eat in case tomorrow there was a famine. Its only in the past 30 or so years in the west that most of us no longer need to think about getting enough food to eat. At the same time cheap high-calorie delicious food has become readily available and the population as a whole is becoming more and more overweight with the connected health problems, including the increases in Type 2 obesity.
Giles took as through the story of the discovery of the biological pathway that determines whether we are hungry or not, which included the story of Labradors, pigs and Mexican cave fish as examples. At the end of the story the message is that our genes haven’t changed since survival from hunger was the order of the day. Genetically some of us have more temptation than others to eat a little more, maybe a few calories worth of food each time but multiplied by hundreds or thousands of decisions each year the weight can creep up. We are all fighting our biology to control our diet or maintain our weight.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a recording of Giles’ talk available for those who missed the meeting or wish to see it again, but he has given this particular talk many times before and there are several versions on YouTube. I can particularly recommend the version linked below which I have verified has the identical slides, discussion and jokes! I can also recommend Giles’ book “Gene eating” which covers the same material but also includes debunking many of the fad diets that are around.