In 1985 S. Boyd Eaton and Konner published an article in The New England Journal of Medicine called “Paleolithic Nutrition: A Consideration of It’s Nature and Current Implications,” considered to be among the first contributions to evolutionary medicine. Along with other papers and a book, it proposed a discordance or mismatch between current environments and those our genomes evolved in, to account for epidemic chronic degenerative disease. Today, so-called “Paleo” diets, based on dubious evidence, are a widespread fad. Did Eaton and Konner spawn a Frankenstein monster? What if anything in their model remains true? Konner will address the “Paleo” fad as well as these more serious challenges: 1) that we mischaracterized the hunter-gatherer diet; 2) that research has undermined our claims about the causes of disease; 3) that we underestimated post-Paleolithic genetic evolution; 4) that paleopathogy reveals atherosclerosis in ancient populations; and 5) that hunter-gatherers do not differ from “sedentary” Westerners in energy throughput. The fad leaves much to be desired, but the death of the mismatch model has been greatly exaggerated.

Professor, Department of Anthropology
Emory University
‘Paleo’ Diet and Lifestyle: After 30 Years, Is There Any Science Left in All the Hype?