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fh3131 t1_j9wo8rh wrote

Sugar, salt and fats taste good because our bodies have evolved to favour foods containing those items. For hundreds of thousands of years, finding enough nutrition was a challenge for early humans, so we've evolved to favour foods that have higher caloric density. If you're an early human who is starving and you find some lettuce and a fruit, you're better off eating the fruit first because it has more sugar and calories.

In the last 2-3 generations (which is a blink of an eye in the evolutionary scale), we all have enough food and calories but our brain chemistry still favours fats and sugar.


police-ical t1_j9wxwy3 wrote

This pairs with the reality that even our fairly recent ancestors had limited access to those nutrients. Honey required getting past bees, wild fruits were small and tart, salt was irregularly available, and fat had to be hunted down and killed. The idea of constant availability of as much fat/sugar/salt as you want, in as many varieties as you can imagine, didn't apply.

Furthermore, the consequences are limited on the time scale that affects natural selection. Humans can reproduce by their teens and raise the child to reproductive age by their 30s, long before obesity is likely to kill you.


NorthImpossible8906 t1_j9wqevd wrote

right. Eat while the eating is good. Not eating enough is an evolutionary hazard which means you cannot propagate offspring, but eating too much is not an evolutionary hazard at all. You can eat way too much and still have offspring, it's only much later in life that it becomes a problem.


LittlekidLoverMScott t1_j9wxlr3 wrote

2 generations is 1970. The industrialization of food in the 1800s is where it shifted.


fh3131 t1_j9xl64t wrote

Yes and no, depending on what we're talking about. I was referring to abundance of high calorie foods. Firstly, the industrialisation you mention only applies to certain societies and wasn't the case for many developing countries until very recently.

Secondly, even in developing countries, it only applied to certain classes. In the 19th century, famine was not uncommon in Europe. Ireland famously lost 10% of its population in the mid-19th century during the potato famines. If you look at photos from the 1920s or 30s, the vast majority of people were lean and food was not plentiful for farmers and labourers. Many European countries had food rationing on certain items (like sugar) after both world wars i.e. into the 1950s.

It's only since then that we've had this glut of reliable food, no major (global) wars, jobs becoming less physical and so on. And that's when the obesity rates spiked, and not before these 2-3 generations.


therealdilbert t1_j9x075a wrote

> Sugar, salt and fats taste good

and are in themselves not "unhealthy", too much i.e. more than you need is unhealthy


Sometimes_Stutters t1_j9y2vk2 wrote

Also, foods with high amounts of sugar, salt, and fat aren’t “unhealthy”. We need all the to live. It’s more to do with the quantity.