Vlad raised an interesting point in his post “A Glimpse at Something Big” that made me go back and look through the Pontzer et al article. He posited that the finding “We hypothesize that human daily energy expenditure may be an evolved physiological trait largely independent of cultural differences” helps to problematize the existing understanding of obesity among Western societies and as well as the fact that for some reason our energy expenditures have remained stable for a substantial period of human history (From the article - “We hypothesize that TEE may be a relatively stable, constrained physiological trait for the human species, more a product of our common genetic inheritance than our diverse lifestyles.”).
What I found quite interesting in while originally reading this article was the same finding but from the other perspective. If the Hadza were to switch to a diet that was as energy rich as that of contemporary industrial/post-industrial society their lifestyles would not protect them from the threat of obesity.
What I wonder from this, is in contemporary societies that consume large quantities energy rich food consumption – I feel there is often a push to encourage people to exercise (or positive social stigma associated with it – think Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign). If we have maintained the same TEE that this paper posits humans may have in a Paleolithic past, is exercise in the Western conception of it, wholly unnatural? Are we actually not at record levels of lethargy but rather are just consuming way more Calories than we are meant to and are really evolutionarily not selected for these activities?
Vlad’s original post: