Von ‚fehlanpassungen‘ und ‚metabolischen ghettos‘: Zur konzeptualisierung globaler gesundheitsunterschiede im feld der developmental origins of health and disease

Michael Penkler, Ruth Müller

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelBegutachtung

1 Zitat (Scopus)


On ‘Mismatch’ and ‘Metabolic Ghettos:’ The Conceptualization of Global Health Differences in Research on the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease. Epigenetic approaches to human health have received growing attention in the past two decades. They allow to view the development of human organisms as plastic, i.e. as open to influences from the social and material environment such as nutrition, stress, and trauma. This has lent new credence to approaches in biomedicine that aim to draw attention to the importance of development for later life health. Some scholars in the social sciences and humanities have welcomed such approaches as a departure from gene‐centric perspectives and as an opportunity for highlighting the social and political determinants of health and illness. Others have warned that they might lead to new forms of biological reductionisms and determinisms. In this article, we explore how research on developmental plasticity addresses and articulates global health disparities, specifically in the context of postcolonial India. We discuss two prominent approaches from the field of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) that build on epigenetic perspectives on health and illness and view different global rates of disease susceptibility as the result of developmental processes: first, the ‘mismatch paradigm’ by Peter Gluckman and Mark Hanson and second, the ‘metabolic ghetto’ concept by Jonathan Wells. We highlight how both approaches render historical and social factors meaningful for the development of global health disparities, but emphasize how they at the same time remain prone to determinisms and reductionisms reminiscent of a gene‐centric perspective. DOHaD actors themselves are critical of these tendencies, and in conclusion we explore novel opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations enabled by this critical potential.

Titel in ÜbersetzungOn ‘mismatch’ and ‘metabolic ghettos:’ The conceptualization of global health differences in research on the developmental origins of health and disease
Seiten (von - bis)258-278
FachzeitschriftBerichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - Sept. 2018


  • Developmental origins of health and disease
  • Epigenetic determinism
  • Epigenetics
  • Genetics
  • Global health disparities
  • Interdisciplinary collaborations
  • Metabolic ghetto
  • Mismatch
  • Plasticity
  • Postcolonialism


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