Eat Less to Live More

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Beyond trimming your weight and waistline, there’s an even more important benefit to reducing calorie intake...

Several studies have shown that being overweight or obese is linked with an increased risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Even a 5-10% reduction in weight can prevent the development of these conditions and aid in the control of hypertension and diabetes as well as lowering blood cholesterol (1).

New research out of Duke University in Durham suggests that biological aging can be stalled with calorie restriction. Biological aging, according to study author Daniel Belsky, is “the gradual and progressive deterioration of systems in the body that occurs with advancing chronological age.” Belsky believes that if biological aging can be slowed, it may help to prevent or delay chronic age-related illnesses and disabilities (2).

The scientists at Duke University in Durham evaluated a total of 220 subjects over 2 years. 145 of those participant reduced calorie intake by 12% compared with 75 controls who did not limit calorie intake. The average biological age of both groups was close to 38 years. Readings that included total cholesterol, blood pressure, and hemoglobin levels were used to calculate biological age (2).

In the calorie-restricted group, biological age increased by an average of 0.11 years each year compared to 0.71 years in the control group over the next two years. This was statistically significant, according to the researchers. Previous studies have shown that calorie restriction slows aging in worms, flies, and mice but this was one of the first human studies to test if calorie restriction can reduce measured biological aging in a randomized controlled study. The authors believe that this study can serve as a model for developing and testing treatment designed to copy the effects of calorie restriction to delay or prevent debilitating diseases (2).

In 2014, the Obesity Society put out an official statement to raise awareness of the availability and consumption of energy-dense food contributing to weight gain and obesity. Foods high in energy include high-sugar foods like soda, ice cream, and high-calorie desserts as well as fried foods, large servings of meat and full-fat cheese. A diet containing foods rich in nutrients such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, and low-fat dairy products can help support weight management efforts. The Obesity Society urges companies to test and market products that are lower in calories that will help consumers with weight management. The position paper can be found at:

By Lisa Andrews, MED, RD, LD


  1. Klein, Samuel. Effects of Moderate and Subsequent Progressive Weight Loss on Metabolic Function and Adipose Tissue Biology in Humans with Obesity. Cell Metabolism, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2016.02.005
  2. Belsky, Dan W., Huffman, Kim, Pieper, Carl, Shalev, Idan, Kraus, William. Change in the Rate of Biological Aging in Response to Caloric Restriction: CALERIE Biobank Analysis. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci glx096. Published:22 May 2017
  3. Shu Wen Ng, Barry M. Popkin. The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation Pledge. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2014; 47 (4): 520 DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.05.030
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