Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from September, 2012

Calorie restriction for longevity ~ For mice, not man

Work in any field long enough and you get a “nose” for the job. It is an instinctive reaction to some new event or idea, built on decades of the passive accumulation of knowledge in ones chosen field. I’ve acquired such a nose an did so quite early on. Instinctively, I could spot a good, original and potentially new area of interest among a forest of dross. Equally, I could sniff a no-hoper, a line of research rapidly going nowhere. I first heard a lecture on calorie restriction over 15 years ago, appropriately at a hotel affiliated to the Orlando Disney Park. Rats, whose energy intake was restricted to 15 - 25% of caloric intake, lived longer than rats given as much as they liked to eat of standard rat chow. I neither like nor dislike rats but it remains that I really have no feelings for them of any substance. The fact that the caloric restriction made them live longer was really of no interest to me, other than to wonder how rats feel about longevity in a captive and restricted, if…

Genes, memes and obesity

I have blogged several times about the uniqueness of obesity to the human race. Notwithstanding the fact that we share 98% of our genes with our nearest biological relatives, the chimpanzees, we alone get fat. It therefore follows that our obesity has origins in the basic biology of energy metabolism and storage but that it also has origins in the society we have constructed. For hard-nosed reductionist biologists, sniffing around the causes of obesity outside the laboratory is most unattractive because it brings us into the world of psychology, of human behaviour and of social organisation and these are all seen as “soft sciences”. If this view persists, then the so-called ‘hard sciences” of genetics and its associated disciplines, will wane in importance. Consider the brouhaha that greeted the discovery of cafeteria feeding of rats to induce obesity, the discovery of genetically obese rodent models, the incredible discovery of the appetite regulating plasma protein leptin and now, t…

Media reporting of food related health claims

In 2009, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF)[1] conducted a survey of 2,400 UK subjects to ascertain their views as to the evidence linking diet and physical activity to cancer. WCRF argue that the advice linking diet and physical activity to cancer is both robust and relatively unchanged in the last decade. However, what they found was that in the 55+ group, 60% felt that scientists were always changing their mind and that 30% thought that the best advice was to avoid health advice and eat what you want. The figure for the sample as a whole were marginally lower. A group of London scientists decided to follow this up with a survey of material appearing in the UK press in one week covering food and health and to examine this the media representation to determine the accuracy or otherwise of the coverage. Their paper was published in the journal “Public Understanding of Science”[2].The lead authors were Professor Tom Sanders, a world authority on diet and cardiovascular function and …