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Am Psychol. 2000 Oct;55(10):1105-16.

Hunger, eating, and ill health.

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Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Humans and other warm-blooded animals living with continuous access to a variety of good-tasting foods tend to eat too much and suffer ill health as a result--a finding that is incompatible with the widely held view that hunger and eating are compensatory processes that function to maintain the body's energy resources at a set point. The authors argue that because of the scarcity and unpredictability of food in nature, humans and other animals have evolved to eat to their physiological limits when food is readily available, so that excess energy can be stored in the body as a buffer against future food shortages. The discrepancy between the environment in which the hunger and eating system evolved and the food-replete environments in which many people now live has led to the current problem of overconsumption existing in many countries. This evolutionary perspective has implications for understanding the etiology of anorexia nervosa.

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