Are Fat People More Highly Evolved?

I make the case that some of us are born to be naturally larger people who crave food more. It just makes sense and it’s obvious! We all know people who are thin all their lives, they never seem to be concerned about what they eat or don’t eat. They make no particular effort to manage their weight. Sometimes they do seem to have voracious appetites but they’re still slim as a reed. I have family members like that myself. I did not get those genes. No, I got the genes from the other end of the Bell Curve.

There are two aspects to this: How much our brains want food and how our bodies manage calories and store fat. It’s easily observed that body composition is influenced by genetics. Family members can share similar body types with distinctive fat distribution. Or not. You can have a whole family that’s tall and skinny or tiny and petite. My family? Big butts and big legs, thanks a lot! I’m not going to complain much. My twiglet Mom deals with inherited blood sugar and cholesterol problems along with gynecologic issues. She’s been on hormones as long as I can remember. Despite her largely vegetable-based diet, she can’t get off Lipitor. My mom is truly “no bigger than a minute” as they say and yet she’s had terrible varicose veins. She shared all these medical issues with my grandmother. But I’m a Kight. The chubby ones. The ones who live to 100 with barely arthritis to contend with. Being naturally thin does not guarantee you’ll be naturally healthy. Natural thinness was included in my mom’s genetic hand of cards but she was also dealt a few bad plays. I did not inherit the medical issues that plague my maternal lineage. I got the sturdy Kight constitution but a big butt happened to be part of the package deal.

As my mother is now in her 70s I worry about her. She is tiny. She’s never cared much about eating and now I am concerned that she gets sufficient nutrients each day. As she’s getting older, though she looks awesome, I start to think of her becoming fragile. My father, the butt-kickin’ Kight dude who still works every day in his mid-80s, caught some kind of horrible viral thing a few months ago. He lost TEN POUNDS. He bounced right back and his weight re-stabilized. But if my mom ever lost ten pounds due to illness? I’d be really, really scared.

I do believe there is a basis to the idea that naturally larger people with greater appetites hold a higher ranking in natural selection. Thinking on an evolutionary kind of scale, we have a better chance to survive. We tend to forget this in our modern world but eating is actually a survival instinct. It would take compelling behavioral drives to send our ancestors out to hunt for food. As folks with food-focused brains, we’re more determined to be better fed than our skinny counterparts. And our bodies hold on to fat more efficiently. We’d survive periods of famine better and during times when food was scarce, we’d live longer on less food. Fast forward to the early days of building our nation. From crossing the Atlantic on a ship to walking the Oregon Trail, it had to be the heartier folk who survived those journeys. And today? I’m certain if my plane crashed on an island, the other naturally fat people and I would bury the size twos before we got rescued. Buh-bye, skinny bitches.

Human evolution selected for naturally larger, naturally hungrier people for a reason. But in our obesogenic society, this wiring has gone haywire! Humans were made to eat intermittently but today we are immersed in a world of food. As long as I have been working on managing my weight, I still deal with food cues getting stuck in my brain and overwhelming me with unwanted thoughts of eating. I resent the energy I have to devote to fighting this. Today’s industrial food is engineered to override our natural sense of hunger and satiety; we may even lose sense of when we’re hungry and when we’re full. For those of us with food brains, we’re thrashed around in a perfect storm. My weapons in that particular battle are eating whole foods and avoiding processed foods. It’s the best I can do.

I am a naturally larger person and my brain loves to think about food. How about you?