The 10th International Congress on Obesity in Sydney was held at the beginning of the month. Gluttony was given a pass as to the reason that the world is so obese these days, and evolution was found to be at fault. The problem is so bad, they contend, that this generation will see the children dying before the parents.

“Early humans sought energy-dense food with high levels of fats, starches and sugars. We are genetically programmed to find foods with these qualities appealing. However, highly energy-dense Western diets have had many of the flavor and micronutrients processed out of them. The artificial replacements in starchy, fatty and sugary foods make them over-palatable and easy to eat quickly.” But too much processed food results in an excess energy intake deficient in micronutrients, producing a state of “malnutrition”, which in turn sees the body react to a “famine stress” by storing fat around the upper body.

I would not be at all surprised to find out that fast foods are actually addicting based on the way that we have evolved to survive. However, I still think that their claim that diet and exercise are not enough is not necessarily accurate. On a global scale, it may be difficult to get people to eat well and to move around, but working out and eating well very obviously works on an individual level.

If evolution is at play here, it may be trying to thin out the population since we are getting dangerously close to requiring more resources than we have available. I personally do not find it very difficult to eat well and exercise often, and am always encouraging the people that I meet to improve their own lives no matter what kind of shape they are in. Small changes to their lifestyle can be easy to make, and have a cumulative effect that makes it easier the longer that you try.

Our bodies like eating well, and respond well to it. I think that the bigger culprit is a society where exercise is not mandatory. If we had the same fast food options available as we do now, but most jobs involved some sort of manual labor such as farming or construction, then I doubt that obesity would be such a problem. People would work off some of the energy they get from the fast food, and probably would not eat as much of it to begin with. I know that as I became more active when I was younger, I tolerated fast food a lot less. My body insisted upon a better diet and told me what it wanted. I was eating fairly well before I started to study nutrition and what I ate, and with a little education I now eat very well.