To the Editor: Dr. Altemeier requested the following review
Regarding Dr. Altemeier's editorial entitled "Digging Up Old Information About Human Nutrition" in the February 1999 issue of the journal, hominids were making stone tools as early as 2.6 million years ago and these became more complex approximately 1.8 million years ago with Homo erec' tus. Wooden spears predated stone points and many archeologists argue that hominids were hunting before 2 million years ago. So meat was important in many areas, if not throughout most of hominid evolutionary history, although vegetable foods probably formed the bulk of calories (and a larger bulk of food volume) in most places.
Carol Word, PhD
Associate Professor of Anthropology
University of Missouri
Dr. Altemeier's response:
Thank you, Dr. Ward. Thus, man's ancestors did have plenty of time to adapt to meat in their diet in early history. In the more recent past and especially during the past 200 years, there has been an accelerating increase in the availability of high-fat meats and processed foods that decrease fiber. Thus, national nutritional recommendations to reduce animal fats and processed sugars while increasing fruits, vegetables, and fiber are more consistent with the foods that hominids evolved with than with our current dietary patterns.