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Back to Symposium 2012

Caloric Restriction and Longevity

John R. Speakman John R. Speakman, DSc

University of Aberdeen, Scotland

“Would you like to live an extraordinarily long and healthy life?” This question is posed on the website of the Calorie Restriction Society, and it would be safe to assume that few people would answer in the negative.

Calorie restriction (CR: reducing caloric intake to between 20 and 40% of the estimated normal daily requirement while maintaining the optimal intake of vitamins and micronutrients) has been touted in the popular press as the answer to longevity. In this presentation, Professor Speakman summarizes the historical background of the notion of CR and presents scientific data from animal studies to help clarify this concept. He reviews five different arguments to evaluate whether CR can be applied to humans. The arguments are:

  • the universality of response argument in favour of CR working in humans
  • the disposable soma theory against CR
  • the Michael Rae ‘never too late to start’ argument in favour of CR
  • the problem of hunger argument against CR, and finally
  • the similarity of response in humans and animals argument in favour of CR working.

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