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Whereas evolutionary maladaptation leads to reproductive restriction (or differential fertility), the rapid changes in our diet, particularly the last 100 yr, are potent promoters of chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis, essential hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and many cancers. In addition to diet, sedentary lifestyles and exposure to noxious substances interact with genetically controlled biochemical processes, leading to chronic diseases. This chapter discusses evolutionary aspects of diet and the changes that have occurred in Western diets, due to the increase in omega-6 and decrease in omega-3 fatty acid intake from the large-scale production of vegetables oils, agribusiness, and modern agriculture, with emphasis on the balance of omega-6 : omega-3 fatty acids. The Appendix is a portion of the summary of The Workshop on the Essentiality of and Recommended Dietary Intakes (RDIs) for Omega-6 and Omega-3 Fatty Acids, held at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD, USA, April 7-9, 1999 (Simopoulos, et al., 1999).

Fig. 1. Hypothetical scheme of fat, fatty acid (w-6, w-3, trans and total) intake (as percent of calories from fat) and intake of vitamins E and C (mg/d). Data were extrapolated from cross-sectional analyses of contemporary hunter-gatherer populations and from longitudinal observations and their putative changes during the preceding 100 yr. (Simopoulos, 1999a).

Fig. 1. Hypothetical scheme of fat, fatty acid (w-6, w-3, trans and total) intake (as percent of calories from fat) and intake of vitamins E and C (mg/d). Data were extrapolated from cross-sectional analyses of contemporary hunter-gatherer populations and from longitudinal observations and their putative changes during the preceding 100 yr. (Simopoulos, 1999a).

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