Study looks at lifespan, calories

Scientists at the National Institute on Aging have released a report that found calorie restriction does not affect survival, as previous studies have suggested. Calorie restriction requires consuming approximately 30 percent fewer calories, but the same nutrients, as a standard diet.

In a 2009 study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, researchers followed two groups of rhesus monkeys for 20 years and found that calorie restriction extended the monkeys’ lifespan. A study published in August through the journal Nature followed rhesus monkeys for 23 years and found no evidence that restriction extended lifespan or reduced age-related deaths.

Both studies did conclude that some age-related diseases, such as diabetes, arthritis and cardiovascular issues, could be postponed through calorie restriction.

“While the two studies share many of the same findings, the differences will be particularly important for helping us better understand this aging intervention,” said Felipe Sierra, the director of the National Institute of Aging, in a press release issued by the National Institutes of Health.

The monkey populations differed between each study by the amount of genetic diversity present, the type of food consumed, and the base amount of food eaten. Researchers can look to differences such as these when trying to understand why such similar studies yielded different results.

And while some studies on rats, monkeys and yeast have shown a benefit to longevity through calorie restriction, no research has yet shown that human longevity would be increased by eating fewer calories.

— Breanna Hostbjor, The Bulletin