ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Darwin Says Thin Is Out

Updated on November 2, 2009

The average woman will be a touch heavier and shorter by 2049 according to a Yale University study on natural selection released last month.

There is already plenty of controversy surrounding any talk about body weight and the effect of body image on our youth. It hit a new high in 2007 when negative publicity about the " boney apparitions" on the catwalk caused European designers to declare that super thin was now "out" and promised to keep a better eye on their models.

However, Diane von Furstenberg, president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), added fuel to the fire when she told a reporter that model weigh-ins in New York would happen "over my dead body."

As women have gotten heavier, models have gotten thinner and taller. The average female model weighed 8% less than the average American woman 25 years ago, according to researchers. Today, models weigh about 23% less than the average woman. The differences don't stop there. Models are usually about 5 feet 10 inches tall - a good five inches taller than they were 10 years ago - while a typical woman is about 5 feet 4 inches and weighs 155 pounds, according to a 2004 SizeUSA study.

In the U.S., only about 1% - about 10 million women and one million men - are anorexic, while nearly two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This new report could polarize the differences between the two camps. Evolution is making us heavier and shorter which is not represented by models and other public figures.

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Sean G. Byars and three fellow researchers said traits can be predicted for the next generation of women based on factors with 2,000 women in the Framingham Heart Study which began in 1948.

Descendants of the women in the study are predicted to weigh about a kilogram more and be two centimeters shorter. They will also have lower blood pressure and cholesterol, will have babies up to five months earlier and go through menopause up to 10 months later, resulting in a longer child-bearing period.

“We found that natural selection is acting to cause slow, gradual evolutionary change,” the researchers said in the PNAS article. The study strongly disputes the contemporary and population notion that medicine-inspired longevity means that natural selection no longer applies.

Using statistical analysis, the researchers were able to determine which traits would be “conferred” on the future generation of women.

The study was funded by Yale University. Sean G. Byars, a post-doctoral researcher at Yale, was lead author of the paper. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the Boston University School of Medicine contributed to the paper.

Article on SmartPlanet (.com) entitled "Women predicted to be heavier and shorter" by John Dodge, published Nov. 2, 2009
Natural selection in a contemporary human population by Sean G. Byars, Douglas Ewbank, Diddahally R. Govindaraju, and Stephen C. Stearns published Oct. 19, 2009, in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Science & Engineering | Yale Bulletin entitled Evolution’s Path May Lead To Shorter, Stouter Women Who Give Birth Earlier published: Oct. 19, 2009
Newsweek Web Exclusive article entitled "Weighty Matters: We know that the trend toward super-thin models is pushing some of them to go on potentially deadly diets. What's it doing to the rest of us?" by Jessica Bennett, Sarah Childress & Susanna Schrobsdorff published Feb. 8, 2007, with updates on Feb. 20, 2008
Framingham Heart Study (.org)
The Origin of the Species, Charles Darwin


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Barkha Dhar 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing an interesting post.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)