"The fact is that the price of leanness is eternal vigilance -- losing and keeping off weight requires a lifelong effort. It amounts to maintaining a constant, realistic balance between total calories consumed and total calories expended," said Dr. Hansen, a physiologist and psychologist specializing in obesity, diabetes and their age-related health complications.
Dr. Hansen, a professor of medicine and pediatrics, directs the USF Health's Center for Preclinical Research, which combines obesity, diabetes and aging research, and the Diabetes Complications Prevention Center. Her latest studies with rhesus monkeys have shown that lifetime calorie restraint to prevent obesity is the most powerful way to reduce age-related health problems such as high blood pressure and high triglycerides and to prevent or delay the progression of insulin resistance toward diabetes. Monkeys whose food intake was maintained in amounts to assure a constant healthy body weight were not only healthier; on the average they lived longer than their counterparts who ate as much as they wanted.
"Our studies have unequivocally demonstrated that if you prevent excess fat deposits in the body through excess calorie restraint, you'll improve health and postpone death," said Dr. Hansen, who is scheduled to present the findings Feb. 17 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting in St. Louis.
She is quick to point out that scientific evidence does not support assertions that the epidemic of obesity is the fault of the obese themselves or a "toxic" environment that seduces people with super-sized menus and convenience food at every corner.
Contact: Anne DeLotto Baier
University of South Florida Health