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Food should be labelled with the exercise needed to expend its calories

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 06 April 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i1856

Rapid Response:

Can food labels compete with evolution?

The commentary entitled “Food should be labelled with the exercise needed to expend its calories,”1 by Shirley Cramer CBE, is based on an antiquated understanding of the etiology and treatment of obesity. My theoretical and empirical work have demonstrated that the “energy balance” and “move more and eat less” conceptualizations of obesity are seriously flawed and that simplistic notions of altering “gluttony or sloth” (e.g., food labeling or excise taxes) will have absolutely no long-term effects on those currently struggling with obesity.2-4

My work demonstrates that obesity is the result of nongenetic evolutionary processes in which a mother’s metabolic and behavioral prenatal phenotypes determine the fat, muscle and pancreatic β-cell development of her fetus.2-4 As such, infants born with an excessive number of fat cells, altered insulin production and decreased skeletal muscle function are permanently and irreversibly predisposed to “eating more and moving less.”2-4

As such, it should be obvious that because willpower, volition, and/or taxes cannot compete with evolution, altering food labels and taxing foods and beverages are not only paternalistic and regressive, such policies will be wholly ineffective and contribute to the stigma individuals struggling with obesity must face.

1. Cramer S. Food should be labelled with the exercise needed to expend its calories. BMJ 2016;353.
2. Archer E. The Childhood Obesity Epidemic as a Result of Nongenetic Evolution: The Maternal Resources Hypothesis. Mayo Clinic Proceedings 2015;90(1):77-92.
3. Archer E. In reply—Maternal, Paternal, and Societal Efforts Are Needed to “Cure” Childhood Obesity. Mayo Clinic Proceedings 2015;90(4):555-57.
4. Archer E. The Mother of All Problems. New Scientist. London,, 2015:32-33.

Competing interests: Dr. Archer has received speaking fees from industry and non-profit organizations.

14 April 2016
Edward Archer
Obesity Theorist and Chief Science Officer
805 Liwood Circle Birmingham, AL 35222