New research challenges the much-touted idea that eating a low-calorie diet can extend your life span. In September a 25-year study conducted by the National Institute on Aging, in Baltimore, found that rhesus monkeys fed a moderate diet lived just as long as those receiving 25 to 30 percent fewer calories. That result diverges from prior research suggesting that slashing the caloric intake of test rats, mice, and monkeys substantially increases their longevity.
Before you storm the all-you-can-eat buffet, however, physiologist Julie Mattison warns that even the control group of monkeys ate portioned, healthy meals and that the calorie-restricted group showed lower rates of cancer and diabetes—they just did not end up living longer as a result. “I think the basic age-old truths of moderation and exercise are still the things we need to remember and practice,” Mattison says.