A range of people – students and non-students, old and young – assembled at The Drill on Monday 13 February to hear a fascinating talk on ‘The journey of FAT (Fabulous/Frustrated Adipose Tissue).’

The relaxed evening, hosted by Lincoln Cafe Scientifique, saw Professor Jon Whitehead of Biomedical Biochemistry at the University of Lincoln explain how fat has gone from being a pro to a problem.

In the past, storing energy as fat was useful for migration and hunting but as our environment has changed, fat has become more of an issue.

Forgoing a traditional presentation, Jon bought poster-sized images to display around the venue. These depicted the classic illustration of an upright man evolving from an ancestral ape.

However, in this version, the human becomes progressively heavier. Jon argued that as humans we have now overshot our peak mental and physical fitness.

In the past, storing energy as fat enabled us to migrate long distances and suited our hunter-gatherer lifestyles, where food was not always readily available.

But our environment has changed and, whilst fat also has key regulatory roles in the body, we now have too much of it. Obesity has become a major issue and contributes to most, if not all, 21st century diseases.

Professor Whitehead was keen to stress that blaming individuals is not the answer- addressing obesity will require a societal reset

Jon was keen to stress that blaming individuals is not the answer and that addressing the obesity epidemic will require a societal reset.

The talk was followed by lots of questions from the audience, showing that a challenging topic had been made engaging and accessible.

Facilitating discussion and “bringing science back into culture” is one of the goals of Lincoln Cafe Scientifique, which is organised by Nicki Law and Graham Law as part of the wider Cafe Scientifique movement.

The events are informally structured with a half-hour talk, time for discussion, then questions. They’re free to attend and the next one, on Tuesday 7 March, will look at artificial intelligence in academia. It promises to be just as interesting.

Find out more here: https://cafesci.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/