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Oscillations in total body fat content through life: an evolutionary perspective


C Zafon, c. Llibertat 65 A, 08150 Parets del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain. E-mail:


Adipose tissue is considered an efficient system in which to store energy. Throughout life, the total amount of body fat exhibits some oscillations. Typically, there are three specific periods in which there are notable increases in fat mass, specifically early in life, during pregnancy and lactation, and with ageing. The existence of the first two peaks in fat mass has been interpreted, from an evolutionary point of view, as a beneficial manoeuvre to protect against the scarcity of energy to the offspring of the species. Nevertheless, the role of increasing body fat with ageing is more dubious. However, recent evidence suggests that the gain in adiposity in senescence may also be interpreted in the same evolutionary context. The aim of this review is to focus on the age-related changes in fat depots. In addition, an evolutionary explanation to the observed changes has been emphasized.