The future is fat


The man on the radio today said that there is not a single country in the world which has reversed their obesity epidemic yet. He claimed to be some kind of medical expert and referred to the phenomena of “foetal imprinting” also known as “Genomic imprinting” which has been discovered in the last five years. This is a process whereby the genes of a foetus are switched on or off according to input from the mother’s body. The assertion was that an overweight mother had a propensity to switching on genes in the foetus which would lead the child susceptible to obesity.
The evolutionary context was that an animal which found food abundant would pass on traits to her offspring which assumed that food was abundant. An animal which found food to be scarce would pass on traits to her offspring which assumed that food was scarce.

The upshot being that because many of us are fat our children are more likely to be fat.

I find this interesting. I had a conversation years ago where I claimed that evolution had stopped because modern society allows everyone to live and breed no matter what their natural capabilities. Evolution depends on the least well adapted dying out. If none of us die out due to our physical or mental traits then evolution has stopped. QED.

However, if foetal imprinting is a true phenomena then evolution will continue but it seems that far from the clichéd version of the future where our bodies shrivel and our head become massive we are destined to become a race of fatties. He ho. If that is destiny then I shall have another pork pie.



  1. Regarding the genetic link, though, you are unclear about how the mother switches on the propensity gene. Does this happen in utero? By serving too much food to her child? A switch on the wall in the nursery?

    Genetic propensities exist for many addictions, such as drug abuse and alcoholism. My position is that family and societal conditioning are key factors in activating the propensity.

    I’ve just finished reading a book called The End of Overeating, by David Kessler, who was once the US Surgeon General. His theory is that food companies and restaurants have created a conditioned hypereating phenomenon in the US, and probably elsewhere. Food manufacturers are engineering their food to maximize such factors as enhanced mouth feel, a certain shape of crunch and a high threshold of salt/sugar balance that triggers binging. The foods are engineered to be easy to chew and swallow so the brain doesn’t recognize how much it has consumed. Restaurants don’t simply bread and fry their chickens anymore, they now layer the fat experience by offering a series of creamy dipping sauces. Meal components no longer sit independently on a plate, they have become a gooey splodge of grease and melted cheese. Restaurants also double fry their food– once at the factory before freezing and shipping and one after thawing at the restaurant. It’s no longer enough to sell an ice cream cone; now it has to come with chunks of chocolate mixed in or covered in pieces of candy. Restaurant portion sizes have doubled in the last 15 years, and it’s not the protein and vitamins that are more abundant, but the cheaper fats and fillers. All to squeeze out a higher profit. And the consumer snarfs it all up because it tastes so damn good! And the more we do, the more conditioned we become to need maximum salt, sugar and fat. And the cycle accelerates.

    As I always say, it’s industry that’s to blame!

  2. According to TMOTR it’s “in utero”.
    Your stuff about the industry making us want to eat more i true.
    I remember hearing something related to this.

    Humans are programmed naturally to like fat because we need some of it and in the preindustrial environement there was not much of it around. So when we can get some we eat as much as we can.

    This is natural.

    The problemm is that in our world ,well as that man sang:

    I feel it in my fingers,
    I feel it in my toes
    Fat is all around me
    and so the feeling grows

    ..what was that…..ah, love actually.

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