Studies on a wide range of species have found that calorie restriction almost always extends lifespan—and this is true in yeast, worms, flies, mice, and more. But whether this applies to primates has been the subject of considerable debate since studies by two highly reputable organizations have reported such different results, reports New Scientist. Now, however, those two organizations—the University of Wisconsin and the National Institute on Aging—have come together to dissect the differences, and they conclude in the journal Nature Communications that calorie restriction does in fact improve both the health and longevity of rhesus monkeys.
It turns out the NIA's preliminary results, which found no difference in survival rates between the groups, were marred by flaws in study design, including that calorie restriction began in some of the monkeys when they were juveniles, which actually reduces primate lifespan. The trials have been going since the late 1980s, and four of the NIA monkeys that began dieting as adults lived past 40 (typical lifespan tops out at 30), breaking any known record for the species. In Wisconsin, meanwhile, the calorie-restricted males typically lived two years longer than controls eating whatever they wanted, while calorie-restricted females lived six years longer. Another finding: the University of Wisconsin reports that females are less susceptible to the negative effects of excess fat than males. (People tend to snack less after looking at this.)