CALERIE Research Program Rolls Onward

Having completed phase I trials of calorie restriction in humans, the CALERIE research program is moving on into phase II:

Dr. William Wong, professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine's USDA Children's Nutrition Research Center in Houston, was awarded a $2.2 million grant from the National Institute of Aging to help determine if a reduction of calories can increase longevity and decrease the risk of chronic disease. Previous animal studies suggest this is the case.

Wong's lab will serve as the central doubly labeled water lab to support the NIA's Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy, or CALERIE, study.


The phase 2 CALERIE clinical trial will study the effects of cutting calorie consumption by one-fourth. Wong's lab will use the doubly labeled water method to establish the participant's caloric need, which will then be decreased by 25 percent in participants assigned to the treatment group.

The study will follow two groups for two years with participants coming in periodically for follow-up doubly labeled water studies.

As is often left out in articles on the subject, the practice of calorie restriction is a matter of engineering your diet to lose the empty calories - those that were not contributing essential nutrients. In other words, eat less of a better diet. Expect to see more news articles of the following variety in early 2008 as the results start to firm up for publication.

It's very clear that calorie restriction has a powerful, protective effect against diseases associated with aging ... We don't know how long each individual actually will end up living, but they certainly have a much longer life expectancy than average because they're most likely not going to die from a heart attack, stroke or diabetes.

The real benefit from this sort of broader study - and that sought by the present fundraising efforts of the Calorie Restriction Society - is to better characterize the differing responses to this sort of dietary choice in different people. Given that people show a range of responses to more or less everything else the world can throw at them, I would expect response to calorie restriction will vary as well. How wide is this range? Is there even a small number people in the world who might react poorly to calorie restriction by way of their genes, rather than due to illness or other medical conditions? Only broader usage and measurement will tell.

I'm sure this will also further boost interest in potential calorie restriction mimetic drugs presently under investigation; the actual practice of calorie restriction seems unpopular in certain quarters. Oh well - their loss.

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