Are You Fat? Diabetic? Blame Evolution!

At EurekAlert, the online news service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), we read: New research suggests that obesity and diabetes are a downside of human evolution. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

As if the recent prediction that half of all Americans will have diabetes or pre-diabetes by the year 2020 isn’t alarming enough, a new genetic discovery published online in the FASEB Journal [“FASB” is the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology] provides a disturbing explanation as to why: we took an evolutionary “wrong turn.” In the research report, scientists show that human evolution leading to the loss of function in a gene called “CMAH” may make humans more prone to obesity and diabetes than other mammals.

Here’s a link to the paper’s abstract in the FASEB Journal: Pancreatic β-cell failure in obese mice with human-like CMP-Neu5Ac hydroxylase deficiency. Let’s read on in EurekAlert:

In this study, which is the first to examine the effect of a human-specific CMAH genetic mutation in obesity-related metabolism and diabetes, Kim and colleagues [that’s Jane J. Kim, M.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego] show that the loss of CMAH’s function contributes to the failure of the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells in overweight humans, which is known to be a key factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.

Why would the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — have done that to us? We continue:

To make their discovery, the researchers used two groups of mice. The first group had the same mutant CMAH gene found in humans. These mice demonstrated that the CMAH enzyme was inactive and could not produce a sialic acid type called NeuSGc at the cell surface. The second group had a normal CMAH gene. When exposed to a high fat diet, both sets of mice developed insulin resistance as a result of their obesity. Pancreatic beta cell failure, however, occurred only in the CMAH mutant mice that lacked NeuSGc, resulting in a decreased insulin production, which then further impaired blood glucose level control. This discovery may enhance scientific understanding of why humans may be particularly prone to develop type 2 diabetes.

We’re skipping some material, which you’ll want to read for yourself, as well as the original paper (if you have a subscription), but here’s the conclusion of the article, quoting Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal:

This evolutionary science explains how we can win some and lose some, to keep our species ahead of the extinction curve.

So there you are. The intelligent designer giveth, but he also taketh away. We know how the creationists will “explain” this research — it’s all the result of the Fall after our ancestors’ sin in the Garden of Eden. But what will the Discoveroids have to say about this? Is their “theory” of intelligent design really “the best” explanation?

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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6 responses to “Are You Fat? Diabetic? Blame Evolution!

  1. This has been suspected for a while now, there are semi-isolated groups that have shown a tendency for diabetes more than the average. Of course there are cultural differences as well so it has been difficult to make a causal link until now. It’s nice to see the science making a start in that direction.

    It gives us another reason to run by McDonalds instead of taking our car through the drive-through.

  2. SC – “The intelligent designer giveth, but he also taketh away.” No, no. the designer giveth perfectly, and that damned Adam/ Eve Serpent taketh away.

  3. The DI will state that this is another piece of evidence supporting their claim that mutations only result in loss of function.

    This is an interesting case in that the mutation would logically be selected against, except until recently people did not live long lives and only rich people grew obese. So the mutation may have been essentially neutral when it first arose.

  4. Well, there has to be *some* consequence for gluttony! Sinners must be punished!


  5. comradebillyboy

    Curmy writes “We know how the creationists will “explain” this research — it’s all the result of the Fall after our ancestors’ sin in the Garden of Eden.”

    In Adam’s fall
    We sinned all

  6. And I thought obesity made humans less likely to reproduce.