Examining the eating habits of locusts may help explain the prevalence of obesity in humans, scientists have claimed.
A leading animal behaviour expert suggests that locusts keep on eating till the time they consume enough protein indicating that humans might be doing the same, which in turn make them prone to gaining weight.
Professor Stephen Simpson, a biological scientist at the University of Sydney has said that with the food increasingly becoming rich in fat and carbohydrate, it leads to an increase in the amount of food needed to get a protein "fix."
While nutritionists behind the popular high-protein Total Wellbeing Diet support the theory, other dieticians say the hypothesis is true in animals only.
"If you feed locusts a low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet they will gorge themselves until they reach their 'protein target'. So they over-eat carbohydrate and fat in an effort to get enough protein," Theage.com.au quoted Simpson, as saying.
He also said that the same might hold true for those eating more fat and carbohydrates and less protein than ever with highly refined foods venturing into the market.
"This research suggests that we should be focusing more on our intake of protein and that humans may also have a protein target that, once achieved, will lead to feelings of fullness," he said.
He claimed that he was not supporting the dangerous high-protein, high-fat Atkins-style diets, but one that includes around 20 per cent of total kilojoule intake from protein. He also made it a point to include a drop in high-fat and refined carbohydrate foods to the diet.
While Dr Peter Clifton, a co-author of the CSIRO's high-protein diet, said the theory was interesting and needed further testing in humans, Dr Tim Crowe, a nutritionist at Deakin University in Melbourne, said the theory had already been disproved.
"We know that longer-term, high-protein diets, low-carb diets and low-GI diets don't give a weight loss advantage said. It sounds good in theory, and it might work for locusts, but the relevance of this research for humans in the real world is almost zero," Dr Crowe.
The research will be presented at the national dieticians congress on the Gold Coast.