Adjunct Professor Anne-Thea McGill

Adjunct Prof Anne-Thea McGill initially completed an ecology and evolutionary biology before later undertaking medical and General Practice (GP) training in New Zealand. During her GP work it became obvious to her that people with ‘obesity’ were not being helped by the medical profession.

During her PhD on markers of metabolic syndrome and causes of obesity, she expanded her investigation into various literatures on the evolution of the human mammal. For the past 10 years she has developed a composite unifying theory that makes sense of the ranges of appropriate human nutrition. Food nutrient 1) procurement drives & eating patterns, 2) type & content, and 3) metabolism & storage physiology were successful for optimal developmental & metabolic health. However, technology contributed to habitable niche and resource exploitation at increasing cost to human and environmental health. Dr McGill is trying to figure out ways to improve the situation.

PRESENTATION: Evolutionary Nutrition and Comparative Physiology of Morning Sickness, Pica and Healthy Babies

Humans have a very strong drive to attain and consume plenty of energy – presumably for their nutrient demanding brains. Evolutionary wise, the wide range of food energy was always accompanied by useful myriads of micronutrients. The drive for energy, and possibly adequate protein balances, ensured consumption of metabolically adequate nutrient levels.

So what is going on when human appetite is vigorously altered with non-nutrient cravings and aversions to healthy food? Morning sickness and pica in pregnant women is very common but are unexplained. They have been scorned and treated by non-scientific means. How do morning sickness, pica and their treatments affect fit women on healthy diets and the overweight women eating highly processed food, and most importantly their babies?

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

  • Use common science sense in biology; understand evolution as it has had time to get it right
  • Analyse how commodity technology works and who really benefits – drugs, processed food, medical devices – and what goes wrong
  • Be prepared to review your ideas in light of biologically plausible theory