Evolutionary Nutritional Ecology

The field of evolutionary medicine frames human illness, disorder and pathology using a distinct evolutionary framework, emphasizing how diseases arise from the inevitable compromises of an evolved body interacting with novel environments. Human societies have undergone many transformations, most of which have seen changes in dietary and nutritional circumstances. Despite these rapidly altering dietary circumstances, human form and function change slowly, making it important to understand both the evolutionary baggage that humans carry and the nutritional changes created by the social and economic transformations that they undergo. This research examines human diet and nutrition and the political ecology of obesity globally from an evolutionary perspective, using anthropological, public health, epidemiological, political and economic historical frameworks. It also examines the social contexts in which new framings of nutritional health are emerging. 

Current work includes Ulijaszek’s co-written (with Sarah Elton, Durham University and Neil Mann, RMIT University Melbourne) book on ‘Evolving Human Nutrition. Its Implications for Public Health’, and an article (with Michael Goran and Elizabeth Ventura, University of Southern California) which takes a global perspective on high fructose corn syrup consumption and type two diabetes prevalence. Earlier research involves an edited volume, based on a conference run in Tokyo, on ‘Health Change in the Asia-Pacific Region. Biocultural and epidemiological approaches’, with Ryutaro Ohtsuka (University of Tokyo). Another edited volume (with Cathy Banwell and Jane Dixon, Australian National University) on ‘Culture-in-Health Research: Local Tales and Global Methodological Lessons’ was published in 2013.