Many animal and human studies show counterintuitive effects of environmental influences on energy balance and life span. Relatively low social and/or economic status seems to be associated with and produce greater adiposity, and reduced provision (e.g., caloric restriction) of food produces greater longevity. We suggest that a unifying factor may be perceptions of the environment as "energetically insecure" and inhospitable to reproduction, which may in turn provoke adiposity-increasing and longevity-extending mechanisms. We elaborate on two main aspects of resources (or the perceptions thereof) on body weight and longevity. We first discuss the effects of social dominance on body weight regulation in human and animal models. Second, we examine models of the interactions between caloric restriction, body composition, and longevity. Finally, we put forth a relational model of the influences of differing environmental cues on body composition and longevity. © 2012 New York Academy of Sciences.