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Calorie intake-life span link discounted

Washington: Cutting down on calories may reduce weight, but it does not necessarily increase one’s life span, says an Indian-American expert.

“Today there are a lot of very healthy people who look like skeletons...,” said Raj Sohal, a Professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Pharmacy.

He and Michael Forster of the University of North Texas Health Science Centre compared the life span and caloric intake of two genetically engineered strains of mice. The “fat” strain, known as C57BL/6, roughly doubles in weight over its adult life. That strain benefited from caloric restriction. The “lean” strain, DBA/2, does not become obese, said Professor Sohal.

However, caloric restriction did not extend the life of these mice, confirming previous work by the pair.

“Our study questions the paradigm that caloric restriction is universally beneficial,” Professor Sohal said. “Contrary to what is widely believed, caloric restriction does not extend [the] life span of all strains of mice.”

By measuring the animals’ metabolic rate, Professor Sohal and his colleagues came to a deceptively simple conclusion: Caloric restriction is only useful when, as in the case of the obese mice, an animal eats more than it can burn off.

“Your energy expenditure and your energy intake should be in balance,” Professor Sohal said. “It’s as simple as that. And how do you know that? By gain or loss of weight? The whole thing is very commonsensical.”

For humans of normal weight, he strongly cautions against caloric restriction. The results are scheduled for publication in the Journal of Nutrition. — Indo-Asian News Service

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