A group of American researchers have found a link between humans and orangutans that may explain why humans have evolved to become obese.
Researchers from the Rutgers University in New Jersey observed orangutans in Borneo for a period of five years and found an interesting aspect that could explain obesity in humans. Orangutans are the only non humans that can store fat and the animals make excellent use of this capability to survive harsh island ecosystem.
Borneo produces large quantities of fruits, the preferred food for orangutans, just once every four or five years. The researchers found that the orangutans gorge on the fruits during this time to drastically increase the fat content in their body. And during the lean years, when orangutans are forced to survive on less nutritious food such as barks of the tree, they make use of the stored fat to maintain their energy levels.
"They have to get energy from somewhere, so they start to digest their body tissue, just like you would find in situations were humans are very impoverished, and in anorexia, where we would potentially see conditions where humans would digest their own muscles", lead researcher Erin Vogel said. The study has been published in the journal Biology Letters.