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Worldwide increase of obesity is related to the reduced opportunity for natural selection


Budnik, Alicja; Henneberg, Maciej (2017). Worldwide increase of obesity is related to the reduced opportunity for natural selection. PLoS ONE, 12(1):e0170098.

Abstract

Worldwide rise of obesity may be partly related to the relaxation of natural selection in the last few generations. Accumulation of mutations affecting metabolism towards excessive fat deposition is suggested to be a result of less purging selection. Using the WHO and UN data for 159 countries there is a significant correlation (r = 0.60, p<0.01) between an index of the relaxed opportunity for selection (Biological State Index) and prevalence of obesity (percentage of individuals with BMI >30kg/m2). This correlation remains significant (r = 0.32., p<0.01) when caloric intake and insufficient physical activity prevalence are kept statistically constant (partial correlation analysis, N = 82). The correlation is still significant when gross domestic product per capita is also kept constant (r = 0.24, p <0.05, N = 81). In the last decades, prevalence of both obesity and underweight has increased in some countries despite no change in caloric intake nor in physical inactivity prevalence. Relaxed selection against genes affecting energy balance and metabolism may contribute to the increase of fatness independent from commonly considered positive energy balance. Diagnoses of individual predispositions to obesity at an early age and individual counselling on diet and behaviour may be appropriate strategies to limit further increases in body mass.

Abstract

Worldwide rise of obesity may be partly related to the relaxation of natural selection in the last few generations. Accumulation of mutations affecting metabolism towards excessive fat deposition is suggested to be a result of less purging selection. Using the WHO and UN data for 159 countries there is a significant correlation (r = 0.60, p<0.01) between an index of the relaxed opportunity for selection (Biological State Index) and prevalence of obesity (percentage of individuals with BMI >30kg/m2). This correlation remains significant (r = 0.32., p<0.01) when caloric intake and insufficient physical activity prevalence are kept statistically constant (partial correlation analysis, N = 82). The correlation is still significant when gross domestic product per capita is also kept constant (r = 0.24, p <0.05, N = 81). In the last decades, prevalence of both obesity and underweight has increased in some countries despite no change in caloric intake nor in physical inactivity prevalence. Relaxed selection against genes affecting energy balance and metabolism may contribute to the increase of fatness independent from commonly considered positive energy balance. Diagnoses of individual predispositions to obesity at an early age and individual counselling on diet and behaviour may be appropriate strategies to limit further increases in body mass.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:Unspecified
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:26 Jan 2017 09:47
Last Modified:12 Aug 2017 13:50
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0170098
PubMed ID:28107497

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