Mmmm... Oh we are define
think before refrigeratesion salting food was the only way to preserve meat. All this has been around for centuries and we are still here bigger and stronger, why so bad now? I don't rember reading about millions dropping over from a can of soda or eating a donut.
Well yeah, we are getting bigger, just ask any airline or any casket mnfctr. Schools too will tell you that there are more and more overweight and obese kids every year.
Point I want to make, is that no one is going to drop dead over a can of soda or donut, but the fact that that obesity is putting one heck-uva strain on every developed nation's healthcare system. For the health care workers, this means more injuries on the job moving heavy patients, getting them bathed/dressed etc. For the obese, it means much higher odds of getting type II diabetes, and the side effects this can have (blindness, amputation, etc). For everyone else, it means much higher health care insurance premiums, longer wait times for specialists, and longer wait times for surgeries and procedures in hospitals. One other point I need to make is that a stressed healthcare system will not perform as well when a natural disaster strikes, or an epidemic like bird flu, e-coli, etc. comes a-calling.
But you are right, our forbears have eaten enormous quantities of food and survived, quite well in fact. Thing is, our forbears also expended an enormous amount of calories too....
Look 40 years ago when I went to school every kid would walk the 3 or 5 blocks to school. At lunch, we got 90 minutes lunchbreak and walked home and back for lunch. At recess and after school we would play hockey in the winter and street hockey in the summer (guess you can tell I'm Canadian, eh?). In other words, we expended calories. At home we had chores, like lawn mowing, raking leaves, painting fences, and whatever else our parents could dream up. Today, any kid under 15 who walks to school un escorted by an adult will get his parents arrested, or have Social Services pay a call and issue a fine, lunchbreaks are under 30 minutes, recesses shortened, etc. Is this purely coincidence or can we connect children's obesity to lack of exercise and consumption of foods rich in sugar, fat, and salt?
While I am in no position to ponder the origins of obesity, or why it is exploding so quickly in the last 20 or so years, I do know two ways of controlling obesity: Control calorie intake, and control calorie expenditure. Having coke machines in schools is no help, neither is lobbying the Senate to accept french fries as a "vegetable" and pizza as a "fruit" (on account of the tomato paste, rich in Vit. C and a tomato IS a fruit...) for school lunches.
I also beg to differ that salting was the only method prior to refrigeration to preserve meat. From Pemmican to dried Cod, from waxed duck to blachan, every nation and culture has a method for drying meats, fish, and produce.
But this is a great topic and I hope others will contribute to it.