Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Full metadata record
DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorNettle, Danielen_UK
dc.contributor.authorAndrews, Clareen_UK
dc.contributor.authorBateson, Melissaen_UK
dc.description.abstractIntegrative explanations of why obesity is more prevalent in some sectors of the human population than others are lacking. Here, we outline and evaluate one candidate explanation, the insurance hypothesis (IH). The IH is rooted in adaptive evolutionary thinking: the function of storing fat is to provide a buffer against shortfall in the food supply. Thus, individuals should store more fat when they receive cues that access to food is uncertain. Applied to humans, this implies that an important proximate driver of obesity should be food insecurity rather than food abundance per se . We integrate several distinct lines of theory and evidence that bear on this hypothesis. We present a theoretical model that shows it is optimal to store more fat when food access is uncertain, and we review the experimental literature from non-human animals showing that fat reserves increase when access to food is restricted. We provide a meta-analysis of 125 epidemiological studies of the association between perceived food insecurity and high body weight in humans. There is a robust positive association, but it is restricted to adult women in high-income countries. We explore why this could be in light of the IH and our theoretical model. We conclude that whilst the IH alone cannot explain the distribution of obesity in the human population, it may represent a very important component of a pluralistic explanation. We also discuss insights it may offer into the developmental origins of obesity, dieting-induced weight gain, and Anorexia Nervosa.en_UK
dc.publisherCambridge University Press (CUP)en_UK
dc.relationNettle D, Andrews C & Bateson M (2017) Food insecurity as a driver of obesity in humans: The insurance hypothesis. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40, Art. No.: e105.
dc.rightsThis article has been published in a revised form in Behavioral and Brain Sciences This version is published under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND ( No commercial re-distribution or re-use allowed. Derivative works cannot be distributed. © Cambridge University Press 2017en_UK
dc.subjectfood insecurityen_UK
dc.subjectweight regulationen_UK
dc.subjecthunger-obesity paradoxen_UK
dc.subjectbehavioural ecologyen_UK
dc.subjecteating disordersen_UK
dc.titleFood insecurity as a driver of obesity in humans: The insurance hypothesisen_UK
dc.typeJournal Articleen_UK
dc.citation.jtitleBehavioral and Brain Sciencesen_UK
dc.type.statusAM - Accepted Manuscripten_UK
dc.contributor.funderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Councilen_UK
dc.contributor.affiliationNewcastle Universityen_UK
dc.contributor.affiliationNewcastle Universityen_UK
dc.contributor.affiliationNewcastle Universityen_UK
Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Nettle-etal-BBS-2016.pdfFulltext - Accepted Version2.9 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

This item is protected by original copyright

A file in this item is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons

Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.