Research by the University of Exeter has concluded that it is an evolutionary impulse that causes us to eat more in winter-and starting your diet on New Years Day isn’t the best new years resolution.
This joint study with Bristol University claims that in colder months, when natural supply of food is low and our self-preserving instincts are on high alert, humans have developed an evolutionary impulse to eat more than is necessary to sustain them, explaining why many gain weight over the winter months.
Research was conducted on the assumption that natural selection assures that all animals develop the ability to maintain a healthy weight.
A computer model was used in the experiment to predict the relationship between fat storage and food supply and discovered that an excess of energy consumption had minimal repercussions, meaning that an evolutionary impulse to control portion sizes has not had to develop.
Lead author Dr Andrew Higginson of the University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences, said: “You would expect evolution to have given us the ability to realise when we have eaten enough, but instead we show little control when faced with artificial food. Because modern food today has so much sugar and flavour the urge humans have to eat it is greater than any weak evolutionary mechanism which would tell us not to.
“Storing fat is an insurance against the risk of failing to find food, which for pre-industrial humans was most likely in winter. This suggests that New Year’s Day is the worst possible time to start a new diet.”