Watching Calories Is a Lifelong Commitment, Two-Decade Study of Monkeys Suggests
ST. LOUIS Feb 17, 2006 (AP)— Losing that extra weight is one thing. Keeping it off requires a lifetime of counting calories.
That's the message from a more than two-decade study of monkeys conducted by Barbara Hansen of the University of South Florida, Tampa.
Genetic differences allow some primates to remain thin and others to grow fat when fed an identical diet over the years, the study found.
Chunky monkeys that were forced to cut calories by as much as 25 percent lost weight. But once those caloric restrictions were lifted, they regained the weight regardless of whether they'd been on a diet for two months or two years.
"The price of leanness is eternal vigilance," said Hansen, who presented her research Friday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Hansen has long studied the effects of calorie restriction in roughly 300 rhesus monkeys.
Cutting calories can pay off when it comes to longevity: Monkeys fed 30 percent less over the long term extended their lifetimes to 30 years from an average of 23 years, Hansen said.
The slimmer monkeys staved off the diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and other weight-related ailments that typically shortened the lives of their heavier peers, she added.