The 'ape that's in us' developed a taste for sugary fruits that were only available sometimes, our eyesight was not designed for staring at computers for hours in artificial light, and pollution is damaging our sense of smell
Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent, in Boston
Tuesday 21 February 2017 07:55 GMT
The modern world is radically at odds with the way human senses have evolved, helping to make us short-sighted, obese and depressed, scientists have warned.
Spending large amounts of time indoors under artificial light and staring at computer screens has helped produce a “myopia epidemic” with as many as 90 per cent of people in some parts of the world needing glasses.
Industrial food production has also turned primates’ taste for sugar — which evolved to persuade us to gorge on healthy fruit when it was ripe — into one of the main causes of the soaring rates of obesity in the Western world.
And our sense of smell is under attack from air pollution, producing an array of different effects, including depression and anxiety.
Three experts in each of the senses spoke about their work at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston.
Professor Amanda Melin, of Calgary University, told a press briefing that the indoor lifestyle of many people in cities and the use of computers posed problems for our eyes.
“We’re inside, we’re in fake lighting, we’re not spending as much time outside in the context in which our vision system evolved,” she said.