Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have disproved the idea that restricting caloric intake may help you live longer. According to a statement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, researchers found that restricting caloric intake by 30 percent did not help rhesus monkeys live longer. However, they noted that calorie restriction helped with certain aspects of good health.
Researchers first began reporting on the impacts of calorie restriction in the 1930s after seeing rodents live up to 40 percent longer when they were given a calorie-restricted diet. In the coming decades, researchers found that restricting the caloric intake of yeast, worms and flies extended their lifespan. However, other studies showed that calorie restriction had no impact on lifespan. In fact, restricting the caloric intake of some mice shortened their lifespan.
The results of the National Institute of Aging study differ from the results of a 2009 NIA-supported study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Wisconsin researchers found that rhesus monkeys on a calorie-restricted diets lived longer than those on a standard diet.
However, the two studies found that calorie restriction had similar beneficial health effects. Diabetes, arthritis and other age-related diseases occurred at an earlier age in monkeys eating a standard diet compared to those on a calorie-restricted diet. Researchers say that this observation was not statistically significant in the NIA study.
“These results suggest the complexity of how calorie restriction may work in the body,” said NIA Director Richard J. Hodes in a statement. “Calorie restriction’s effects likely depend on a variety of factors, including environment, nutritional components and genetics.”
The findings were detailed in the August 29, 2012 issue of Nature.