Sodas and soft drinks at a Supermarket
Science, Evolutionary Biology, And Simple Economics Say Bloomberg’s Soda Ban Is Right
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the political economy of the obesity epidemic
. Here, from a great oped in yesterday’s NYT, is the evolutionary science behind both the problem and the solution.
Here’s the argument (though I strongly urge you to read the extremely well-crafted piece):
Since sugar is a basic form of energy in food, a sweet tooth was adaptive in ancient times, when food was limited. However, excessive sugar in the bloodstream is toxic, so our bodies also evolved to rapidly convert digested sugar in the bloodstream into fat. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors needed plenty of fat — more than other primates — to be active during periods of food scarcity and still pay for large, expensive brains and costly reproductive strategies…
Simply put, humans evolved to crave sugar, store it and then use it. For millions of years, our cravings and digestive systems were exquisitely balanced because sugar was rare. Apart from honey, most of the foods our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate were no sweeter than a carrot…it wasn’t until very recently that technology made pure sugar bountiful.*
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