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Med & 5-2 diet

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are recruiting volunteers for a study comparing the potential health and longevity benefits of the Mediterranean diet with a typical American diet. The study’s aim is to determine whether health and longevity are influenced more by healthy eating or by weight loss. People tend to lose weight when they consume a Mediterranean diet, but it’s been hard to determine whether their markers of health and longevity improve because they’re eating healthier food or whether those changes are the result of weight loss.

IF YOU HOPE TO LIVE A LONGER LIFE, IS IT MORE IMPORTANT TO LOSE WEIGHT? OR TO EAT A HEALTHIER DIET? THAT’S A DIFFICULT QUESTION BECAUSE OFTEN THE TWO GO HAND-IN-HAND, BUT NUTRITION AND LONGEVITY RESEARCHERS AT WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE IN ST. LOUIS ARE STUDYING WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PEOPLE CHANGE TO A HEALTHIER DIET WITHOUT LOSING WEIGHT TO COME UP WITH SOME ANSWERS. JIM DRYDEN REPORTS…

SCIENTISTS KNOW WHEN ANIMALS EAT LESS FOOD WHILE MAINTAINING ADEQUATE NUTRITION THEY LIVE LONGER. SOME PEOPLE ALSO PRACTICE CALORIE RESTRICTION, HOPING THAT THEY’LL SIGNIFICANTLY EXTEND THEIR LIVES, TOO. BUT IT’S A TOUGH THING TO DO, SO MANY HAVE OPTED TO RESTRICT CALORIES A COUPLE OF DAYS A WEEK, WHILE EATING NORMALLY THE REST OF THE TIME. THE SO-CALLED 5-2 DIET IS BEING PRACTICED WIDELY AROUND THE WORLD, AND SOME STUDIES HAVE FOUND THAT THE INTERMITTENT FASTING INVOLVED HAS SIMILAR EFFECTS IN ANIMALS TO THE EFFECTS OF MORE CHRONIC CALORIE RESTRICTION. STILL OTHER STUDIES HAVE FOUND THAT MARKERS OF AGING AND LONGEVITY IMPROVE IN PEOPLE WHO EAT A SO-CALLED MEDITERRANEAN DIET THAT’S RICH IN FIBER AND WHOLE GRAINS AND LOW IN FAT AND RED MEAT. BUT MANY OF THOSE STUDIES HAVE SOMETHING IN COMMON: THE PEOPLE INVOLVED LOST WEIGHT. WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY RESEARCHER LUIGI FONTANA WANTS TO FIND OUT WHETHER HEALTHIER DIETS ALSO CAN HAVE POSITIVE EFFECTS ON LONGEVITY AND METABOLISM WHEN PEOPLE DON’T LOSE WEIGHT.

(act) :21 o/c molecular outcomes

The goal is more understanding health and longevity more

than weight loss. There are a lot of interesting concepts

that, you know, we want to test in humans — that have been

tested in animals or in epidemiological studies but not in

well-designed, randomized clinical trials with metabolic

and molecular outcomes.

FONTANA HAS LAUNCHED A DIET STUDY, BUT HE’S NOT REALLY INTERESTED IN RECRUITING PEOPLE WHO NEED TO LOSE A LOT OF WEIGHT. INSTEAD, HE WANTS TO ANSWER SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT WE EAT, VERSUS HOW MUCH WEIGHT WE LOSE.

(act) :09 o/c losing weight

Nobody knows what happens when you change the quality

without losing weight.

FONTANA WILL PUT HALF OF THE PEOPLE IN THE STUDY ON THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET. THAT’S AN EATING PROGRAM THAT’S VERY DIFFERENT FROM A TYPICAL AMERICAN DIET.

(act) :22 o/c American diet

High fiber, high quality, more fish, less meat, so no

meat. There is some poultry, but, you know, it’s mainly

fish. More grains and beans and vegetables. And then after

the two months, they’re going to start to do two days of

fasting per week. Two days of fasting on a Mediterranean

diet and two days fasting on a typical, American diet.

AFTER TWO MONTHS OF STAYING WEIGHT STABLE ON THE TWO DIFFERENT DIETS, AND ANOTHER TWO MONTHS OF LOSING WEIGHT, FONTANA HOPES TO LEARN WHETHER EATING A VERY HEALTHY DIET WHILE LOSING WEIGHT IS BETTER FOR A PERSON’S METABOLISM, AND FOR MARKERS OF AGING, THAN LOSING WEIGHT WHILE EATING FOODS THAT AREN’T AS HEALTHY. BUT HE SUSPECTS THAT THOSE ON THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET WILL BENEFIT MORE.

(act) :18 o/c to quality

That’s my hypothesis, but you know, it’s just a hypothesis.

I mean, it’s clear, you know, the people on the Mediterranean

diet, they do much better than people on a typical American diet.

But one of the problems is that, you know, when you are on a

Mediterranean diet, you lose weight. And so the effects are due

to weight loss? Or to quality?

FONTANA SAYS HE HOPES THIS STUDY WILL ANSWER THAT QUESTION. I’M JIM DRYDEN.

RUNS 2:55

(NOTE: For more information about the study, or to volunteer, call the study coordinator at 314-362-2399 or e-mail sjamalab@dom.wustl.edu)