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Annu Rev Nutr. 2016 Jul 17;36:603-26. doi: 10.1146/annurev-nutr-071715-051118. Epub 2016 Jun 1.

Nutritional Ecology and Human Health.

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Charles Perkins Centre and School of Life and Environmental Sciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia; email:


In contrast to the spectacular advances in the first half of the twentieth century with micronutrient-related diseases, human nutrition science has failed to stem the more recent rise of obesity and associated cardiometabolic disease (OACD). This failure has triggered debate on the problems and limitations of the field and what change is needed to address these. We briefly review the two broad historical phases of human nutrition science and then provide an overview of the main problems that have been implicated in the poor progress of the field with solving OACD. We next introduce the field of nutritional ecology and show how its ecological-evolutionary foundations can enrich human nutrition science by providing the theory to help address its limitations. We end by introducing a modeling approach from nutritional ecology, termed nutritional geometry, and demonstrate how it can help to implement ecological and evolutionary theory in human nutrition to provide new direction and to better understand and manage OACD.


ecology; evolution; human nutrition; nutritional geometry

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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