Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Thrifty Genotype Hypothesis

Argument that fat storage capabilities under genetic control increase adaptation of certain human populations to unstable foraging circumstances: periods of plentiful food supply followed by periods of famine. Today, when presented with a stable high caloric diet without intervening periods of food deprivation, there is a tendency for people with this adaptation to become obese. Best known from the Pima Indians of the American southwest. Neel’s original concept has recently been challenged by a thrifty phenotype hypothesis that invokes poor fetal and neonatal nutritional factors.

See diabetes mellitus, type II and New World syndrome.

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