Sci. Aging Knowl. Environ., 7 November 2001
Vol. 2001, Issue 6, p. pe3
[DOI: 10.1126/sageke.2001.6.pe3]


Does Caloric Restriction in the Laboratory Simply Prevent Overfeeding and Return House Mice to Their Natural Level of Food Intake?

Steven N. Austad

The author is in the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-3051, USA. E-mail: austad{at};2001/6/pe3

Key Words: caloric restriction • energy consumption • food consumption • mice • mouse

Abstract: Some researchers have speculated that the senescence-retarding effect of caloric restriction on laboratory rodents is an artifact of overfeeding under captive conditions. The argument posits that mice in nature are chronically calorically restricted; therefore, the typical laboratory protocol of restricting animals to 60% of their ad lib food intake more realistically replicates life in the field: the conditions under which the animals' physiology has been designed by natural selection to thrive. The hypothesis concludes that instead of comparing control animals with restricted animals, we are in fact comparing overfed animals with adequately fed ones, and, not surprisingly, the overfed ones die younger. In this Perspective, the author discusses the merits and drawbacks of this hypothesis in light of energy consumption data for various types of mice.

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