Geriatrics 2 pp 436-445 | Cite as

Human Aging and Obesity



This chapter describes our current understanding of the relationship between human obesity and aging. Despite the widespread belief that there are strong links between obesity and aging, there have been surprisingly few studies of this relationship. Studies of experimental animals, on the other hand, although they have seldom dealt with obesity as such, have provided strong evidence that a critical intervening variable — nutrition — links obesity and aging. These studies have shown that radical restriction of food intake early in life can increase the life span of rodents by a factor of 2 and even 3 (McCay 1953). Even restriction of food intake in the mature animal can increase the life span, although not to the same degree (Ross 1972). Furthermore, restriction of food intake increases the life expectancy of two quite different forms of experimentally obese animals — the genetically obese ( ob/ob ) mouse (Lane and Dickie 1958) and the dietary obese rat (Sclafani 1980). The fact that death, when it comes, is due to a variety of causes (Ross and Bras 1974), suggests that it is a result of some aspect of the aging process itself and not due to some specific vulnerability, such as to neoplasia or vascular disease.


Coronary Heart Disease Behavior Therapy Weight Status Life Insurance Obese Person 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1983

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