Evolving Health

Monthly Archives: May 2012

Natural selection granted us large brains. The evolutionary cost is having to feed them. The human brain’s high-energy demands led to development of a strong preference for fat. We consume more fat than any other primate on average. We are also adapted to more easily digest and metabolize fats. There are two major kinds of fat that our brains depend on most for its development and regular maintenance. These are the long-chain… Read More

Gary Taubes makes insulin out to be a bad guy. In his latest article in Newsweek Magazine commenting on HBO’s Weight of the Nation documentary, he once again challenges energy balance (energy intake versus energy expended) as a paradigm for understanding obesity. The author of Good Calories, Bad Calories offers an alternative theory: refined sugars and grains trigger insulin, which leads to fat accumulation. He also doesn’t think much of physical activity as playing a “meaningful… Read More

Fructose metabolism. Ref: Tappy & Ka 2010. Sugar is a hot topic these days. Evidently, it’s also a touchy topic. I’ve been a little amazed at some of the responses (both positive and negative) received since my first rant post about media reporting unfairly that hummingbird fuel was “toxic”. There clearly exists a continued need for education about the state of the evidence as it stands now surrounding sugar and its implications on health. As a follow-up… Read More

Earlier today, biologist Mary Mangan (@mem_somerville) shared the bad news that anti-biotechnology activists had succeeded in breaking into and damaging a publicly funded research project at Rothamsted Research Station in Harpenden, England. The vandalism happened only a week ahead of a planned demonstration organized by the Take the Flour Back environmentalist group (which I wrote previously about here). Mangan wrote on her Google+ page: Sadly, the destruction has begun. Forces opposed to science have vandalized a research project… Read More

I’m a bit late in weighing into the “Sugar Makes You Stupid” mess of poor health reporting on a rat study. At the Embargo Watch blog, Ivan Oransky already covered the mishandling of the study’s embargo and ripped into the press release for misleading readers into believing that the study had any meaningful conclusions for college students. Then, Deborah Blum at Knight Science Journalism Tracker went further, bringing more reason and logic, by clarifying what the… Read More

On May 27, the “Take the Flour Back” environmentalist group plans to take “mass action” in efforts to remove more than $1 million worth of research in biotechnology. Their purpose, according to their website, is one of “mass decontamination” of what they see is a threat to farmers, the food supply, health of consumers, and biodiversity. What this protest group doesn’t understand is that it’s exactly this kind of research that they, as environmentalists, should be… Read More

As if we needed any more reason to pick on Body Mass Index (BMI): new research finds that this most accepted approach for assessing overweight and obesity based on height and weight could lead to misclassification of young Asian-American women as healthy when they’re really “skinny fat,” which could put them at greater risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In my last post, I discussed the scary, growing problem of… Read More

With all the attention given to body fat, a result of the high prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes, skeletal muscle is often given the back seat. Yet holding on to lean muscle mass alone, in itself, may be the most important factor in avoiding health problems above. What’s often forgotten is that skeletal muscle is a metabolically active tissue that plays a critical role in consuming energy and determining metabolic rate, it’s the… Read More