An evolutionary mismatch narrative to improve lifestyle medicine: A patient education hypothesis

Anthony J. Basile, Michael W. Renner, Brandon H. Hidaka, Karen L. Sweazea

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


An evolutionary perspective provides a unifying explanation for the modifiable risk factors and lifestyle-based interventions for the leading causes of morbidity and mortality globally. Non-communicable diseases develop from an evolutionary mismatch between the prior environment and modern patterns of behavior; however, it is unclear whether an evolutionary mismatch narrative could promote positive behavior change in patients. We hypothesize that educating patients about evolutionary mismatch could augment efforts to improve healthful behavior. Specifically, explaining the 'why' behind what is being recommended could promote health literacy and adherence. Furthermore, we offer suggestions of how clinicians could educate patients about evolutionary mismatch for key-lifestyle factors, diet and physical activity, as well as several specific modern diseases. We also consider how to sidestep patients' skepticism of evolutionary theory. Here, we lay the groundwork for research on how educating patients with an evolutionary mismatch narrative could impact health behaviors and improve outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-163
Number of pages7
JournalEvolution, Medicine and Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • behavior change
  • evolutionary mismatch
  • lifestyle medicine
  • patient education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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