While reviewing past articles from the Digital Edition archive at Scientific American Magazine, I came across a 2002 article from my old lab at the Gerentology Research Center at the National Institute of Aging. The article describes a summary of what is known about the effects of caloric restriction on aging, lifespan, and disease.

In short, caloric restriction (CR) is simply the consumption of fewer calories, typically about 30% less, which has been demonstrated to decrease age-related disease, increase average lifespan, and increase maximum lifespan. While this has been well characterized in rodents, roundworms, and fruit flies, the most intriguing studies are being performed on populations of monkeys at NIH and the University of Wisconsin, which must go on for decades before confirming the effects of CR conclusively. In lieu of waiting some 20 or 30 odd years for those projects to complete, scientists can and do look at biologicial indicators that measure the aging process at various ongoing intervals.

As anyone on a typical diet can attest, eating less has the unwanted effects of making one grumpier and less able to focus or concentrate, and it's not very likely that people will really be able to stay on a calorically reduced diet for any significant amount of time, although Dr. Roy Walford is giving it his best try. Scientists hope to develop drugs to mimic the effects of caloric restriction, without actually requirnig humans to eat less. Although I'm personally still hoping that they will come up with one to help me drop the 30+ pounds I've put on since working in the software industry!!