The Obesity-Inflammation Connection Explained

The Obesity-Inflammation Connection Explained

West-Eberhard, M. J. (2018). Nutrition, the visceral immune system, and the evolutionary origins of pathogenic obesity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201809046. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1809046116

The long-awaited article on the evolution of obesity and its interactions with the immune system has just been published in PNAS, open access. This may offer a key to the pathogenic effects of obesity via inflammation.

Abstract: The global obesity epidemic is the subject of an immense, diversely specialized research effort. An evolutionary analysis reveals connections among disparate findings, starting with two well-documented
facts: Obesity-associated illnesses (e.g., type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease), are especially common in: (i) adults with abdominal obesity, especially enlargement of visceral adipose tissue (VAT), a tissue with important immune functions; and (ii) individuals with poor fetal nutrition whose nutritional input increases later in life. I hypothesize that selection favored the evolution of increased lifelong investment in VAT in individuals likely to suffer lifelong malnutrition because of its importance in fighting intraabdominal infections. Then, when increased nutrition violates the adaptive fetal prediction of lifelong nutritional deficit, preferential VAT investment could contribute to abdominal obesity and chronic inflammatory disease. VAT prioritization may help explain several patterns of nutrition-related disease: the paradoxical increase of chronic disease with increased food availability in recently urbanized and migrant populations; correlations between poor fetal nutrition, improved childhood (catch-up) growth, and adult metabolic syndrome; and survival differences between children with marasmus and kwashiorkor malnutrition. Fats and sugars can aggravate chronic inflammation via effects on intestinal bacteria regulating gut permeability to visceral pathogens. The extremes in a nutrition-sensitive trade-off between visceral (immune-function) vs. subcutaneous (body shape) adiposity may have been favored by selection in highly stratified premedicine societies. Altered adipose allocation in populations with long histories of social stratification and malnutrition may be the result of genetic accommodation of developmental responses
to poor maternal/fetal conditions, increasing their vulnerability to inflammatory disease.

EMPH has Oomph: Impact Factor Approved

EMPH has Oomph: Impact Factor Approved

Approval of an impact factor has just been announced for Evolution Medicine and Public Heath, the Open Access journal published by the Oxford University Press for the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health. This is a major accomplishment for such a new journal, started by Stephen Stearns just 7 years ago. The specific impact factor will be announced this summer.

Submit your articles now. Or send a note to the editor, Charles Nunn, inquiring about a possible submission. ISEMPH members get a $1,000 discount on author’s fees

As in previous years, the $5,000 George C. Williams prize is awarded to the best paper in the journal each year.

If you’re not already registered for them, you can get “Email Alerts” for EMPH articles. ISEMPH is working with OUP to create a system that sends notifications only when the final pdf version of an article is posted. In the meanwhile, you can create or sign into your free OUP account to specify which of four possible kinds of alerts you want to receive.

New Issue Alerts are sent just after a journal issue closes. Since EMPH is organized in annual volumes, this e-alert is sent only once per year for EMPH.

 In Progress Alerts are sent either daily or weekly and contain any new content that has posted since the prior e-alert. Since EMPH only places corrected proofs in issues, this would probably be the best alert type for most ISEMPH members.

Advance Article Alerts are also sent either daily or weekly and contain any new content that has posted since the prior e-alert. (Again, the user gets to select the frequency.) Only accepted manuscripts are placed here. This will get you a notification of all new content as soon as it publishes.

Article Activity Alerts can be created by each user, if they would like to be notified about any subsequent activity related to a specific manuscript – comments, errata, etc. This is different than Saved Searches, which can also be created by users.

Mismatch Talks at Michigan

Mismatch Talks at Michigan

The University of Michigan Evolution and Human Adaptation Program has a fine series of talks coming up. Thursdays 1:30-3:00 in East Hall on the Ann Arbor campus. See this link for details.


Feb 14th  Beverly Strassman (Michigan)
Feb 21st   Marco Del Giudice (New Mexico)
Feb 28th   Alyssa Crittenden (UNLV)
Mar 14th  William Parker (Duke)
Mar 21st   Shinobu Kitayama (Michigan)
Mar 28th   Stephen Colarelli (Central Michigan)
Apr 4th     Charles Nunn (Duke)
Apr 11th   Bruce Robertson (Bard)
Apr 18th   Douglas Kenrick (ASU)

Share your creations on EvMedEd

Share your creations on EvMedEd

Creating a course on evolution and medicine?  Taking one?  Then you need EvMedEd…and EvMedEd needs you. Your articles, videos, syllabi, and other teaching resources will receive wide attention if you share them on EvMedEd.

EvMedEd provides links to over 1500 authoritative education resources for evolutionary medicine. Teachers and students will find it especially useful, but it is also for scientists, clinicians and anyone curious about how evolutionary biology is being used to understand disease and improve health. It can be used to create evolutionary medicine classes, to add content to other classes, or to find relevant short videos or papers during hospital rounds or informal discussions.

EvMedEd  is sponsored by ISEMPH and the Arizona State University Center for Evolution and Medicine. If you are a Full Members of ISEMPH, log into your account to access advanced options on a special members-only search and download page. If you are not already a member, join by December 15 to get a 20% discount by using the code ISEMPH2019. 

Adding your articles videos and syllabi will bring them to wide attention and will help others create better courses faster. Staff are available for a short time to add your contributions in whatever way is easiest for you. 

So, please contribute your articles and other teaching resources today! Questions? Send a note to Editor@EvMeded.org

ISEMPH Meeting in Zurich

ISEMPH Meeting in Zurich

Discounted early registration and abstract submission are now open.

Join or renew ISEMPH membership at a 20% discount until December 15. Use code “ISEMPH2019” at checkout.  

The Fifth Annual Meeting of the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health will be at the University of Zurich, Switzerland August 13-16. Students, researchers, clinicians and others are all welcome. 

ISEMPH 2019 is profoundly interdisciplinary meeting that emphasizes the multiple interfaces between evolutionary biology and human health in medicine, nursing, veterinary medicine, anthropology, evolutionary psychology, behavioral ecology and epidemiology. Students and clinicians at all stages of professional development are especially welcome. Only 300 seats are available, so register early. Cancellations before June 1 are eligible for a refund.

The Hosting Committee is chaired by Frank Rühli, Prof. Dr. Dr. med. (Professor of Evolutionary Medicine,  University of Zurich, Switzerland), and Nicole Bender, MD, PhD (University of Zurich, Switzerland).  
The Program Committee is chaired by Jacobus (Koos) Boomsma, PhD (Chair) , Professor of Evolutionary Biology (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

Confirmed Keynote Speakers 

  • Prof. Bernard J. Crespi, Simon Fraser University, Canada: How evolutionary biology can frame a unified theory for understanding human mental illness.
  • Prof. Dario Valenzano, Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, Germany: African killifishes shed light on the genomic basis of life history trait evolution in vertebrates.
  • Prof. Kayla King, University of Oxford, UK: Protectors vs. killers: microbes within the host as drivers of pathogen evolution.
  • Prof. Verena Schünemann, University of Zurich, Switzerland: Ancient DNA and pathogens: uncovering the past of human diseases
  • Winners of the George C. Williams Prize and the Gilbert Omenn Prizewill also give plenary talks

The mission of the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health’s is to foster communication among scientists, students, clinicians and public health professionals who use evolutionary insights to improve medical research and practice, and information on human health and disease to advance evolutionary biology. Previous meetings have been at Arizona State University, Duke University, Groningen, Netherlands (with ESEB), and Park City, Utah. The 2020 meeting will be at the University of Georgia, the 2021 meeting will be in Lisbon.