Near the end of chapter 1, there is a section, titled “Are we less healthy than our ancestors?” (EMH, 52) Throughout reading the first chapter, I found myself asking the same question almost every other page. “Maybe so and then again, maybe not’ is probably the most reasonable answer to the question.” (EMH, 52) so says the textbook, in response to the question. For a college textbook, hasty conclusions should definitely be avoided, and EMH gives a proper response to support why “Maybe so and then again, maybe not” is a good answer, but, as an opinionated individual on the internet, I want to give a more definitive answer to the question, “Are we less physically healthy than our ancestors?”
We, defined as modern people living in Western Civilization, are less healthy, on average, than our hunting and gathering ancestors. My personal definition of good physical health is a state in which a being can perform physical labors that are within the realm of reason for something of their species. For instance, a horse in good physical health can gallop and we have no reason to believe a horse that cannot gallop is in good health. I believe this to be a correct definition of good physical health because it necessitates physical strength and endurance, while barring unreasonable labors in a case by case matter for each species of animal.
According to our textbook, modern-day foraging people must perform “high levels of daily activity in search of food, water and temporary sleeping sites.” (EMH, 3) therefore, they prove capable of performing physical labors that are within the realm of reason for something of their species, such as carrying supplies and moving to find food. Our ancestors were also foraging people, and so their daily lives also consisted of similar activities of contemporary foraging people, so they show they are also capable of such physical labor.
People of Western Civilization do not often engage in strenuous physical activity and a common side-effect is an inability to walk up stairs without becoming out-of-breath. Because so many people are plagued by this side-effect, we can assume that those of Western Civilization, on average, cannot engage in more demanding physical labors that are within the realm of reason for someone of their species, like the labors of our foraging ancestors.
Thus, our foraging ancestors were healthier than modern people living in Western Civilization.