Dietary composition specifies consumption, obesity, and lifespan in Drosophila melanogaster

Aging Cell. 2008 Aug;7(4):478-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2008.00400.x. Epub 2008 Jun 28.


The inability to properly balance energy intake and expenditure with nutrient supply forms the basis for some of today's most pressing health issues, including diabetes and obesity. Mechanisms of nutrient homeostasis may also lie at the root of dietary restriction, a manipulation whereby reduced nutrient availability extends lifespan and ameliorates age-related deteriorations in many species. The traditional belief that the most important aspect of the diet is its energetic (i.e. caloric) content is currently under scrutiny. Hypotheses that focus on diet composition and highlight more subtle characteristics are beginning to emerge. Using Drosophila melanogaster, we asked whether diet composition alone, independent of its caloric content, was sufficient to impact behavior, physiology, and lifespan. We found that providing flies with a yeast-rich diet produced lean, reproductively competent animals with reduced feeding rates. Excess dietary sugar, on the other hand, promoted obesity, which was magnified during aging. Addition of dietary yeast often limited or reversed the phenotypic changes associated with increased dietary sugar and vice versa, and dietary imbalance was associated with reduced lifespan. Our data reveal that diet composition, alone and in combination with overall caloric intake, modulates lifespan, consumption, and fat deposition in flies, and they provide a useful foundation for dissecting the underlying genetic mechanisms that link specific nutrients with important aspects of general health and longevity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / drug effects
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Energy Intake / drug effects
  • Feeding Behavior / drug effects
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fertility / drug effects
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism
  • Larva / drug effects
  • Larva / physiology
  • Longevity / drug effects
  • Longevity / physiology*
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Phenotype
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Triglycerides / metabolism
  • Yeasts


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Insect Proteins
  • Triglycerides