Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Eating Less May Not Extend Human Life: Caloric Restriction May Benefit Only Obese Mice

Date:
January 26, 2009
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
Caloric restriction only benefits obese mice, according to a new study in the Journal of Nutrition. The results suggest that caloric restriction may not be a universally beneficial anti-aging strategy, as commonly believed.

If you are a mouse on the chubby side, then eating less may help you live longer.
Credit: iStockphoto/Brandon Laufenberg

If you are a mouse on the chubby side, then eating less may help you live longer.

Related Articles


For lean mice – and possibly for lean humans, the authors of a new study predict – the anti-aging strategy known as caloric restriction may be a pointless, frustrating and even dangerous exercise.

"Today there are a lot of very healthy people who look like skeletons because they bought into this," said Raj Sohal, professor at the University of Southern California's School of Pharmacy.

He and Michael Forster, of the University of North Texas Health Science Center, compared the life span and caloric intake of two genetically engineered strains of mice.

The "fat" strain, known as C57BL/6, roughly doubles in weight over its adult life. That strain benefited from caloric restriction, Sohal said.

The "lean" strain, DBA/2, does not become obese. Caloric restriction did not extend the life of these mice, confirming previous work by Forster and Sohal.

"Our study questions the paradigm that caloric restriction is universally beneficial," Sohal said. "Contrary to what is widely believed, caloric restriction does not extend (the) life span of all strains of mice."

By measuring the animals' metabolic rate, Sohal and his colleagues came to a deceptively simple conclusion: Caloric restriction is only useful when, as in the case of the obese mice, an animal eats more than it can burn off.

"Your energy expenditure and your energy intake should be in balance," Sohal said. "It's as simple as that. And how do you know that? By gain or loss of weight.

"The whole thing is very commonsensical."

For humans of normal weight, Sohal strongly cautions against caloric restriction. In a 2003 study, he and Forster found that caloric restriction begun in older mice – both in DBA and leaner C57 individuals – actually shortened life span.

However, Sohal said that obese individuals are probably better off cutting calories than increasing their exercise to make up for overeating. Overly vigorous exercise can lead to injuries and long-term wear and tear.

In other words, it is better to skip the double cheeseburger than to turn up the treadmill after binging at Carl's Jr.

Sohal's study is not the first to question the allegedly universal benefits of caloric restriction. A study by Ross et al. published in Nature in 1976 ("Dietary practices and growth responses as predictors of longevity") found that caloric restriction works best in mice that gain weight rapidly in early adulthood, Sohal said.

Studies of caloric restriction in wild types of mouse strains have shown minimal life span extension, he added.

Next, the researchers want to understand why the obese mice have a lower metabolic rate that promotes weight gain.

The other members of the research team were Melissa Ferguson and Barbara Sohal of the USC School of Pharmacy.

Funding for the study came from the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southern California. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sohal et al. Life Span Extension in Mice by Food Restriction Depends on an Energy Imbalance. Journal of Nutrition, Jan 2009; DOI: 10.3945/jn.108.100313

Cite This Page:

University of Southern California. "Eating Less May Not Extend Human Life: Caloric Restriction May Benefit Only Obese Mice." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090123101224.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2009, January 26). Eating Less May Not Extend Human Life: Caloric Restriction May Benefit Only Obese Mice. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090123101224.htm
University of Southern California. "Eating Less May Not Extend Human Life: Caloric Restriction May Benefit Only Obese Mice." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090123101224.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins