The Relationship of Body Weight to Longevity within Laboratory Rodent Species

  • Donald K. Ingram
  • Mark A. Reynolds


The positive correlation of body weight (BW) to lifespan (LS) across mammalian species is well-established (Economos, 1980b; Sacher, 1959). Increases in species-representative BW are paralleled by increases in LS. According to an analysis by Economos (1980b), the correlation coefficient of log BW vs. log LS within the mammalian class as a whole is high (ṟ = 0.79). This relation appears to hold within all mammalian orders. Within the order Rodentia, the correlation coefficient of log BW vs. log LS is even higher (ṟ = 0.86).


Inbred Mouse Strain Adult Body Weight Heavy Body Weight Body Weight Growth Dietary Restriction Group 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Andres, R., 1980a, Effect of obesity on total mortality, Int. J. Obesity, 4:381.Google Scholar
  2. Andres, R., 1980b, Influence of obesity on longevity in the aged, in: “Aging, Cancer and Cell Membrances,” C. Borek, C. M. Fenoglio, and D. W. King, eds., George Thieme, Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  3. Andres, R., 1985, Mortality and obesity: The rationale for age-specific height-weight tables. in: “Principles of Geriatric Medicine,” R. Andres, E. L. Bierman, W. R. Hazzard, eds., McGraw-Hill, New York.Google Scholar
  4. Avons, P., Ducimetiere, P., and Rakotovao, R., 1983, Weight and mortality, Lancet. 1:1104.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barrows, C. H., and Kokkonen, G. C., 1977, Relationship between nutrition and aging. in: “Advances in Nutritional Research,” H. H. Draper, ed., Plenum Press, New York.Google Scholar
  6. Beauchene, R. E., Bales, C. W., Bragg, C. S., Hawkins, S. T., and Mason, R. L., 1986, Effect of age of initiation of feed restriction on growth, body composition, and longevity of rats, J. Gerontol., 41:13.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Berg, B. N., and Simms, H. S., 1962, Disease, rather than aging, as the cause of weight loss and muscle lesions in the rat, J. Gerontol., 17:452.Google Scholar
  8. Bertrand, H. A., Lynd, F. T., Masoro, E. J., and Yu, B. P., 1980, Changes in adipose mass and cellularity through the adult life of rats fed ad libitum or a life-prolonging restricted diet, J. Gerontol., 35:827.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Build Study 1979, 1980, Chicago Society of Actuaries and Association of Actuaries and Association of Life Insurance Medical Directors of America.Google Scholar
  10. Driori, D., and Folman, Y., 1976, Environmental effects on longevity in the male rat: Exercise, mating, castration, and restricted feeding, Exp. Gerontol., 11:25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Duffy, P. H., and Sacher, G. A., 1976, Age-dependence of body weight and linear dimensions in adult Mus and Peromyscus, Growth, 40:19.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Economos, A. C., 1980a, Brain-life span conjecture. A reevaluation of the evidence, Gerontol., 26:82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Economos, A. C., 1980b, Taxonomic differences in the mammalian life-span body-weight relationship and the problem of brain weight, Gerontol., 26:90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Economos, A. C., and Lints, F. A., 1984, Growth rate and life span in Drosphila. III. Effect of body size and developmental temperature on the biphasic relationship between growth rate and life span, Mech. Ageing Devel., 27:153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Economos, A. C., and Lints, F. A., 1985, Growth rate and life span in Drosphila. IV. Role of cell size and cell number in the biphasic relationship between life span and growth rate. Mech. Ageing Devel., 32:193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Everitt, A. V., 1955, The loss of body weight in ageing rats, Austral. J. Med. Technol., 1:41.Google Scholar
  17. Everitt, A. V. and Webb, C., 1957, The relation between body weight changes and life duration in male rats, J. Gerontol., 12:128.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Goodrick, C. L., 1974, Effects of exercise on longevity and behavior of hybrid mice which differ in coat color, J. Gerontol., 29:129.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Goodrick, C. L., 1977, Body weight change over the life span and longevity for C57BL/6J mice and mutations which differ in maximal body weight, Gerontol., 23:405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Goodrick, C. L., 1978, Body weight increment and length of life: The effect of genetic constitution and dietary protein, J. Gerontol., 33:184.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Goodrick, C. L., 1980, Effects of long-term voluntary wheel exercise on male and female Wistar rats. I. Longevity, body weight, and metabolic rate, Gerontol., 26:22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Goodrick, C. L., Ingram, D. K., Reynolds, M. A., Freeman, J. R., and Cider, N. L., 1982, Effects of intermittent feeding upon growth and life span in rats. Gerontol., 26:233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Goodrick, C. L., Ingram, D. K., Reynolds, M. A., Freeman, J. R., and Cider, N. L., 1983a, Differential effects of intermittent feeding and voluntary exercise on body weight and survival in adult rats, J. Gerontol., 38:36.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Goodrick, C. L., Ingram, D. K., Reynolds, M. A., Freeman, J. R., and Cider, N. L., 1983b, Effects of intermittent feeding upon growth, activity, and lifespan in rats allowed voluntary exercise, Exp. Aging Res., 9:203.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Harman, D., 1981, The aging process, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA, 78:7124.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Harrison, D. E., Archer, J. R., and Astle, C. M., 1984, Effects of food restriction on aging: Separation of food intake and adiposity, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA, 81:1835.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hart, J. S., 1971, In: Comparative Physiology of Thermoregulation. G. C. Whittow, ed., Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  28. Ingram, D. K., and Reynolds, M. A., Les, E. P., 1982, The relationship of genotype, sex, body weight, and growth parameters to lifespan in inbred and hybrid mice, Mech. Ageing Devel., 20:253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ingram, D. K., and Reynolds, M. A., 1983, Effects of protein, dietary restriction, and exercise on survival in adult rats: A re-analysis of McCay, Maynard, Sperling, and Osgood [1941], Exp. Aging Res., 9:41.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Ingram, D. K., Reynolds, M. A., and Goodrick, C. L., 1982, The relationship of sex, exercise, and growth rate to lifespan in the Wistar rat: A multivariate correlational approach. Gerontol., 28:23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kleiber, M., 1961, “The Fire of Life: An Introduction to Animal Energetics,” Wiley and Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  32. Leto, S., Kokkonen, G. C., and Barrows, C. H., 1976, Dietary protein, life span, and biochemical variables in female mice. J. Gerontol., 31:144.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Lew, E. A., and Garfinkel, L., 1979, Variations in mortality by weight among 750,000 men and women. J. Chron. Dis., 32:563.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Libow, L. S., 1974, Interaction of medical, biologic, and behavioral factors on aging adaptation and survival. An 11-year longitudinal study. Geriatrics, 29:75.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Lints, F. A., 1985, Insects, in: “Handbook of the Biology of Aging,” C. E. Finch and E. L. Schneider, eds., Van Nostrand, New York.Google Scholar
  36. Masoro, E., Yu, B. P, and Bertrand, H. A., 1982, Action of food restriction in delaying the aging process. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA, 79:4239.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Masoro, E. J., 1984, Food restriction and the aging process. J. Am. Geriat. Soc., 32:296.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. McCarter, R., Masoro, E. J., and Yu, B. P., 1985, Does food restriction retard aging by reducing the metabolic rate? Am. J. Physiol., 248:488.Google Scholar
  39. McCay, C. M., 1935, The effect of retarded growth upon the length of life span and upon the ultimate body size. J. Nutr., 10:63.Google Scholar
  40. McCay, C. M., Maynard, L. A., Sperling, G., and Osgood, H., 1939, Retarded growth, life span, ultimate body size and age changes in the albino rat after feeding diets restricted in calories. J. Nutr., 18:1.Google Scholar
  41. McCay, C. M., Lovelace, E., Sperling, G., Barnes, L. L. Litt, C. H., Smith, C. A. H., Smith, C. A., and Saxton, J. A., Jr., 1952, Age changes in relation to the ingestion of milk, water, coffee, and sugar solutions. J. Gerontol., 7:161.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. McCay, C. M., Maynard, L. A., Sperling, G., and Osgood, H., 1941, Nutritional requirements during the latter half of life. J. Nutr., 21:45.Google Scholar
  43. Nash, D. J., and Kidwell, J. F., 1973, A genetic analysis of lifespan, fecundity, and weight in the mouse. J. Heredity, 64:87.Google Scholar
  44. Nolen, G. A., 1972, Effect of various restricted dietary regimes on the growth, health and longevity of albino rats, J. Nutr., 102:1477.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Osanai, M., 1978, Longevity and body weight loss of silkworm moth, Bombyx mori, varied by different temperature treatments. Exp. Gerontol., 13:375.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Reynolds, M. A., and Ingram, D. K., 1984, Is thinner better? Int. J. Obesity, 8:285.Google Scholar
  47. Reynolds, M. A., Ingram, D. K., and Talan, M., 1985, Relationship of body temperature stability to mortality in aging mice. Mech. Aging Devel., 30:143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rockstein, M., Chesky, J., and Sussman, M., 1977, Comparative biology and evolution of aging. in: “Handbook of the Biology of Aging,” C. E. Finch and L. Hayflick, eds., Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York.Google Scholar
  49. Ross, M. H., 1966, Life expectancy modification by change in dietary regimen of mature rat. Proceed. 7th Int. Congress Nutr., 5:35.Google Scholar
  50. Ross, M. H., and Bras, G., 1965, Tumor incidence patterns and nutrition in the rat. J. Nutr., 87:245.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Ross, R. H., Lustbader, E., and Bras, G., 1976, Dietary practices and growth responses as predictors of longevity, Nature, 262:548.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sacher, G., 1959, Relation of life span to brain weight and body weight in mammals, CIBA Found. Coll. Aging, 5:115.Google Scholar
  53. Sacher, G. A., 1977, Life table modification and life prolongation. in: “Handbook of the Biology of Aging,” C. E. Finch and L. Hayflick, eds., Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York.Google Scholar
  54. Sacher, G. A., and Duffy, P. H., 1979, Genetic relation of life span to metabolic rate for inbred mouse strains and their hybrids, Fed. Proc., 38:184.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Soliman, M. H., and Lints, F. A., 1975, Longevity, growth rate and related traits among strains of Tribolium castaneum, Gerontologia, 21:102.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Soliman, H., and Lints, F. A., 1982, Influence of preimaginal constant and alternating temperatures on growth rate and longevity of adults of five genotypes in Tribolium castaneum, Mech. Ageing Devel., 18:19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Storer, J. B., 1967, Relation of lifespan to brain weight, body weight, and metabolic rate among inbred mouse strains, Exp. Gerontol., 2:173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Stuchlikova, E., Juricova-Horakova, M., and Deyl, Z., 1975, New aspects of the dietary effect of life prolongation in rodents. What is the role of obesity in aging? Exp. Gerontol., 10:141.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Stunkard, A. J., 1983, Nutrition, aging and obesity: A critical review of a complex relationship, Int. J. Obesity, 7:201.Google Scholar
  60. Talan, M., 1984, Body temperature of C57BL/6J mice with age, Exp. Gerontol., 19:25.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Waaler, Hans Th., 1984, Height, weight, and mortality: The Norwegian experience, Acta Medica Scandinavica, Suppl. 679.Google Scholar
  62. Weindruch, R., Walford, R., Fligiel, S., and Guthrie, D., 1986, The retardation of aging in mice by dietary restriction: Longevity, cancer, immunity, and lifetime energy intake, J. Nutr., 116:641.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Wyndam, J. R., Everitt, A. V., and Everitt, S. F., 1983, Effects of isolation and food restriction begun at 50 days on the development of age-associated renal disease in the male Wistar rat, Arch. Gerontol. Geriatr., 2:317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Yu, B. P., Masoro, E. J., and McMahan, C. A., 1985, Nutritional influences on aging of Fischer 344 rats: I, Physical, metabolic, and longevity characteristics, J. Gerontol., 40:657.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald K. Ingram
    • 1
  • Mark A. Reynolds
    • 1
  1. 1.Molecular Physiology and Genetics Section, Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology Gerontology Research CenterNational Institute on Aging, Francis Scott Key Medical CenterBaltimoreUSA

Personalised recommendations