Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Scientific American Logo
Tv Schedule
Alan Alda
For Educators
Previous Shows
Future Shows
Special Features

Fat and Happy?

  Doctor Empathy
Photo of  Alan and Roy Walford
  Roy Walford shows Alan how to make a life-extending lunch

New research is pointing to a remarkable benefit of a low-calorie diet - it may actually help us to live longer.

Dr. Roy Walford has long been a pioneer in uncovering the connection between eating and longevity. In the early nineties, he was one of the Biosphere II scientists challenged to live in a greenhouse environment for two years, subsisting off of their own crops. Food was about 40% short. But Walford noted through testing that his fellow scientists had never been healthier.

Photo of Alan and scientist looking at free-radical damage
Mice on high-calorie diets age more quickly than their diet-restricted counterparts  

In the lab, Walford's former student Rick Weindruch is reaching similar results with mice and monkeys. It's immediately evident to Alan that the mice being fed a low-calorie diet are full of youthful energy, even though they are the mouse equivalent of senior citizens. Across the way, their same-aged companions, eating much more, spend their day napping.

In his well-fed monkeys, Weindruch is finding evidence of free-radical damage, a condition that's been linked to many illnesses in humans including cancer. But monkeys on a restricted diet have minimal damage, meaning they could be heading to a longer life. Walford for one is convinced this will work for humans too.

For links to Roy Walford's home page and other related infomation please see our resources page

For more on this topic, see the web feature:
Compute Your BMI and The FRONTIERS Cookbook

return to show page


Doctor EmpathyObesity Begins at HomeCouch Potato KidsEat Less -- Live LongerThe Desert's Perfect Foods Teaching guide Science hotline video trailer Resources Contact Search Homepage