This is one of the results of a ten-year experiment conducted by researchers at the CNRS and the French National Museum of Natural History (MNHN), in partnership with other French teams.1 Chronic caloric restriction consists in eating a reduced but balanced diet from the outset of early adulthood. Its beneficial effect on lifespan had been established for many short-lived species (worms, flies, mice), but remained controversial for primates, including humans. Another observation is that the aging process is delayed among animals on a reduced diet.
The scientists exposed a group of mouse lemurs to moderate chronic caloric restriction (30% fewer calories than their peers consuming a normal diet) from the outset of early adulthood. They then considered their survival data as well as possible age-related alterations. The first result, after the experiment had been running for ten years, was that in comparison to the animals in the control group, the lifespan of those subject to caloric restriction increased by almost 50%. More specifically, their median survival is 9.6 years (compared to 6.4 years for the mouse lemurs in the control group). And, for the first time among primates, the scientists observed that the maximum lifespan had increased: almost a third of the calorie-restricted animals were still alive when the last animal in the control group died at the aged of 11.3 years.