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Study predicts that in 400 years average woman will weigh nearly 1 kg more, be 2 cm (almost an inch) shorter

A strong body of evidence exists that humans are continually evolving a diverse fashion in response to various environmental influences.  Despite skepticism from some who blindly reject such studies for various dogmatic reasons, human evolution does appear to be happening.  And researchers in the fields of genetics and evolutionary biology are revealing exciting insights into what man (and woman) may look like in the future.

A new study from Yale University researchers offers some intriguing and unusual conclusions about where human evolution may be headed.  A new study analyzing a population of 14,000 residents of the Massachusetts town of Framingham indicates that women are being naturally selected to be shorter and chubbier, have children younger, and have lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

The complex study came to these conclusions by looking at the medical records of 2,238 female participants, spread across two generations (starting in 1948) and looking at their medical history when they reached menopause.  The study examined those that successfully reproduced and looked at what traits influenced their reproductive success.  It also made adjustments for income, education and lifestyle choices such as smoking, before applying correlations to determine the direction of evolution.  They also looked at secondary effects, i.e. whether low blood pressure led to younger sexual maturity, or whether the paths were independent.

Based on the results women in the third generation of the study, currently ongoing, are expected to begin their first period a month earlier, and enter menopause a full month later than their mothers and grandmothers, on average.  Heaviness proved to be also be selected, as heavier women have more children, on average.

Professor Stephen Stearns, an evolutionary biologist at Yale University and coauthor of the study states, "The idea that natural selection has stopped operating in humans because we have gotten better at keeping people alive is just plain wrong.  It's interesting that the underlying biological framework is still detectable beneath the culture."

The Yale experts predict that based on the current trends, in the year 2409AD, the average woman in Framingham will be 2 cm  (almost 1 inch) shorter and 1 kg heavier (approximately 2.5 lb).  Women in 2409 AD are predicted to have their period 5 months earlier and to go into menopause 10 months later -- almost a full year later.

Sean G. Byars, a post-doctoral researcher at Yale, was lead author of the paper, and researchers from University of Pennsylvania and the Boston University School of Medicine also contributed to it.  The intriguing study was funded by Yale University and was published in a prestigious journal -- the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences -- on October 19.


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How many variables are they able to predict?
By JediJeb on 11/2/2009 3:54:48 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The complex study came to these conclusions by looking at the medical records of 2,238 female participants, spread across two generations (starting in 1948) and looking at their medical history when they reached menopause. The study examined those that successfully reproduced and looked at what traits influenced their reproductive success. It also made adjustments for income, education and lifestyle choices such as smoking, before applying correlations to determine the direction of evolution. They also looked at secondary effects, i.e. whether low blood pressure led to younger sexual maturity, or whether the paths were independent.


So as long as trends in income, education, lifestyle choices ect remain on the same trend they have since 1948 then this will happen. There are so many factors that are envolved how can they try to predict the path of evolution. If the economy crashes for 40 years in the future how would that affect the outcome. Sounds like their conclusion is like basic physics courses where you always assume the experiment is done in a vacuum on a frictionless surface.

From what studies I have seen before the opposite was happening up until now, so what changed? If you look at painting from the middle ages women were much heavier then than now. Is the weight preference cyclical and if so makes no sense to predict a linear model.




By Nutzo on 11/2/2009 4:09:50 PM , Rating: 2
This study is worthless. 2.5 pounds in 400 years? a simple "fashion" trend could make more of a difference in just a couple years. What if it becomes fashionable to be "plump" like it was in the middle ages instead of skinny?


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