Why dietary restriction substantially increases longevity in animal models but won't in humans

Ageing Res Rev. 2005 Aug;4(3):339-50. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2005.06.001.


Caloric restriction (CR) extends maximum longevity and slows aging in mice, rats, and numerous non-mammalian taxa. The apparent generality of the longevity-increasing effects of CR has prompted speculation that similar results could be obtained in humans. Longevity, however, is not a trait that exists in a vacuum; it evolves as part of a life history and the physiological mechanisms that determine longevity are undoubtedly complex. Longevity is intertwined with reproduction and there is a cost to reproduction. The impact of this cost on longevity can be age-independent or age-dependent. Given the complexity of the physiology underlying reproductive costs and other mechanisms affecting life history, it is difficult to construct a simple model for the relationship between the particulars of the physiology involved and patterns of mortality. Consequently, we develop a hypothesis-neutral model describing the relationship between diet and longevity. Applying this general model to the special case of human longevity and diet indicates that the benefits of caloric restriction in humans would be quantitatively small.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors*
  • Animals
  • Caloric Restriction*
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Humans
  • Longevity / physiology*
  • Models, Animal
  • Models, Biological
  • Mortality
  • Reproduction / physiology
  • Species Specificity
  • Time Factors