Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 136–146 | Cite as

Evolutionary Aspects of Obesity, Insulin Resistance, and Cardiovascular Risk

  • Ian SpreadburyEmail author
  • Andrew J. W. Samis
OBESITY AND DIET (G Rao, Section Editor)


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is still virtually absent in those rare populations with minimal Western dietary influence. To date, exercise, altered fats, fibre, anti-oxidants or Mediterranean diet do not appear to overcome the discrepancy in CVD between hunter-gatherer and Western populations. The CVD risk factors of obesity and diabetes are driven by increased caloric intake, with carbohydrates potentially implicated. Paradoxically, non-Westernized diets vary widely in macronutrients, glycemic and insulinemic indices, yet apparently produce no obesity or CVD regardless, even with abundant food. 'Ancestral' grain-free whole-food diet may represent the best lifestyle intervention for obesity and CVD. Such diets are composed of the cells of living organisms, while Western grains, flour and sugar are dense, acellular powders. Bacterial inflammation of the small intestine and vagal afferents appears a crucial step in leptin-resistance and obesity. Therefore it may be important that the Western diet resembles a bacterial growth medium.


Obesity Metabolic syndrome Type 2 diabetes Cardiovascular disease Leptin resistance Evolutionary medicine Paleolithic diet Nutrition transition Western disease Carbohydrate density Acellular carbohydrates Kitava study 



No potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article were reported.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Gastrointestinal Diseases Research UnitQueen’s University, Kingston General HospitalKingstonCanada

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