Several years ago a study appeared, which found that following a very low calorie diet might in fact lead to a longer life. Almost immediately, enthusiastic followers, including even some scientists, took up the study’s findings: They followed a rigid diet, which was several hundred calories short of what the body actually required. They lost a lot of weight and I am quite sure were not running any marathons. Their hope, of course, was to live longer.

Fast forward several years. Another study, just published showed some very different results. Rhesus monkeys were intentionally fed a low calorie diet and compared with their probably happier normal diet companions. The study lasted a remarkable 20 years. The semi starved monkeys weighed the equivalent of a 6 foot tall man of 133 pounds. Guess what? These miserable, constantly hungry monkeys did not live any longer than their well fed buddies! I imagine that more than a few of those super motivated  and perpetually hungry dudes who have been rigidly eating very little and been quite unhappy for over 20 years are now scratching their heads. All those years of feeling weak and dizzy and no double cheeseburgers! And for what?

Still, just because one study contradicts a previous one, doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole theory is thrown out the window. It should just give one pause. In fact, most Americans-about 70% are in fact overweight or obese. Cutting down on calories especially fats and carbohydrates is not a bad thing. Steering clear of fast food, lowering portion sizes, eating more fruit and veggies and laying off the cookies is for sure a good thing.¬† So is taking time daily to exercise-for example a walk around the block.

For me the thought of eating tiny portions, going to bed weak and hungry is not a pleasant one. To be even more blunt: Even if this were to be proven to lengthen life for a few years, I question whether half a lifetime of misery is worth the small extra time on the planet.