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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Testing the evolutionary basis of the Predictive Adaptive Response hypothesis in a preindustrial human population
Author(s): Hayward, Adam
Lummaa, Virpi
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Keywords: metabolic syndrome
silver spoon
human life-history
developmental constraint
developmental plasticity
early-life nutrition
Issue Date: 2013
Date Deposited: 8-Mar-2016
Citation: Hayward A & Lummaa V (2013) Testing the evolutionary basis of the Predictive Adaptive Response hypothesis in a preindustrial human population. Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health, 2013 (1), pp. 106-117.
Abstract: Background and objectives: The thrifty phenotype hypothesis proposes that late-life metabolic diseases result from mismatch between early-life and adulthood nutrition. More recently, the predictive adaptive response (PAR) hypothesis has suggested that poor early-life environmental conditions induce metabolic changes which maximise health and fitness in similarly poor adult conditions, but reduce fitness if conditions later improve. Therefore later-life survival and reproduction should be maximised where environmental conditions during development and adulthood match, but few studies in humans have addressed the consequences of poor early conditions on fitness traits in varying later conditions. Methodology: We tested key evolutionary predictions of the PAR hypothesis using detailed longitudinal data with several environmental parameters from a natural fertility preindustrial human population, to investigate how combinations of early- and late-life environmental conditions affected annual probabilities of survival and reproduction. Results: We found no suggestion that fitness was maximised when developmental and later-life conditions matched, but rather poor environmental conditions during development or later life and their combination were associated with lower survival. Conclusions and implications: Our results are more consistent with predictions of ‘silver spoon’ models, whereby adverse early-life conditions are detrimental to later health and fitness across all environments. Future evolutionary research on understanding metabolic disease epidemiology should focus on determining whether adaptive prediction maximises infant survival where conditions match during development and immediately after birth, rather than drawing attention to the unlikely long-term fitness benefits of putative metabolic changes associated with poor early nutrition.
DOI Link: 10.1093/emph/eot007
Rights: © The Author(s) 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Foundation for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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