University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


The future looks short and chubby

Natural selection ignores the advancement of medicine and improved public health. Evolution still favours those that have the most children. This means the women of the future will be a bit shorter and bit a heavier

Despite us getting better at keeping people alive and healthy for longer, we are still not ‘beyond’ evolution. This has been documented in a new American study.

»There is this idea that because medicine has been so good at reducing mortality rates, that means that natural selection is no longer operating in humans,« says Stephen Stearns, Professor at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University, and one of the central figures behind the study.

»That’s just plain false.«

Chubby is the new skinny

Natural selection has standards that are quite different than those of the catwalk. It is about being good at giving birth, and in that contest short and stocky beats tall and skinny.

Natural selection also takes what is inside into account, and it turns out that a low blood pressure and level of cholesterol, as well as a late menopause, has a lot to say too.

With these traits passed on, women in 10 generations time will be an average of 2 centimetres shorter and a kilogram heavier. The average woman will then be 158 cm and 66 kg, have their first child earlier and be capable of getting their last child later.

The results come from a large American study that started in the town of Framingham back in 1948. Since then the study has included more than 14,000 inhabitants and spanned three generations of women.