Harvard evolutionary biologist Daniel Lieberman thinks we pretty much need “socially acceptable coercion” to deal with our evolutionary preferences for gluttony and sloth:
When you walk into a train station and there is a staircase and an escalator, your brain always tells you to take the escalator. Given a choice between a piece of cake and a carrot, we always go for the cake. It’s not in your best interest, but it’s probably a very deeply rooted evolutionary instinct. …
If we want to practice preventive medicine, that means we have to eat foods that we might not prefer, and exercise when we don’t want to. The only way to do that is through some form of socially acceptable coercion.
Lieberman said in a talk at Harvard’s TED equivalent (Harvard Thinks Big — below) a year or so ago that as we can’t change our biology, we need to change the environment in which we live. Hmmm. Not so sure that the latter is easier!