The Compass: Changing World, Changing Bodies

Ep 3/3

Wednesday 29 May



In Changing World; Changing Bodies academic and author Dr Vybarr Cregan-Reid looks at what the modern world is doing to our bodies and how they are changing in different ways, in different parts of the world.

Episode three: Faces

In the final episode of Changing World, Changing Bodies, Dr Vybarr Cregan-Reid looks at what the modern world is doing to our faces.

With the help of Professor Saw Seang Mei in Singapore and the UK's top ophthalmologist, Professor Chris Hammond, he tells the story of how baffled scientists sought to understand the rocketing rates of myopia in the Far East, where more than 80 percent of teenagers are short-sighted. Dr Cregan-Reid learns about the various theories put forward before Australian researchers cracked the mystery in 2004 - spoiler alert - it is not to do with screens.

Evolutionary Biologist Prof Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel from New York State University, tells Dr Cregan-Reid about how our jaws have been reacting to changes in our diet: they are getting shorter and less dense - but no one told the teeth! They are erupting as if it is still 50,000 years BC and at London's Natural History Museum Professor Fred Spoor takes us through the impact the modern world is having on our teeth and the shape of our mouths.

Back in Singapore, the country's leading plastic surgeon - who spends most of his day re-shaping people's jaws - tells Dr Cregan-Reid he thinks our faces are getting shorter but wider because of what we eat and the impact on stress on facial muscles.

In the third and final part of Changing World, Changing Bodies we learn, why the 'you' that you see in the mirror most days may not be the 'you' that your DNA had planned.

  • Produced by Kevin Mousley for BBC World Service