Media Advisory

Friday, July 12, 2019

Moderate calorie restriction in young and middle-aged adults significantly reduces heart and metabolic risk factors independent of weight loss


Moderately reducing caloric intake over a period of two years significantly improved cardiometabolic risk factors in young and middle-aged, non-obese adults, according to new findings from the Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy (CALERIE) trial. The study is a multicenter randomized controlled trial supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health.

According to the researchers, there are no pharmacologic agents with such profound effects on such a broad range of cardiometabolic risk factors. The study published online July 11, 2019, and in the September print edition of The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. The paper was authored by a team led by CALERIE study principal investigator Dr. William E. Kraus, M.D., of Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina.

Compared to the control group, the calorie restriction group experienced significant improvements in multiple cardiometabolic risk factors, including waist circumference, blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin sensitivity and fasting glucose, and C-reactive protein (a marker of systemic inflammation associated with multiple chronic conditions and diseases of age).

Calorie restriction was found to improve risk factors for the development of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and related deaths well below clinical risk thresholds. This speaks to the impact that the dietary practice might have, even when adopted by younger people in good health.

CALERIE was the first trial that investigated the effects of two-year caloric restriction in humans, following on evidence from several model organisms showing that calorie restriction increased both health span and life span. Over 200 young and middle-aged normal-weight or moderately overweight adults were randomly assigned to follow either a calorie restriction diet or their usual diets. After two years, participants in the experimental group had reduced their daily caloric intake by 12% and maintained, on average, a 10% loss in body weight.

NIH spokespeople can provide important context about this study, such as:

  • Explaining the design of the CALERIE trial, including the methods used to ensure adherence of participants to caloric restriction
  • Sharing details about the previously reported findings from the CALERIE study
  • Providing background on NIA-funded research on aging, including calorie restriction studies in  animal models
  • Reviewing the growing body of evidence that links calorie restriction and a variety of health-related effect


  • Giovanna Zappalà, Ph.D., M.P.H., Health Scientist Administrator, Clinical Gerontology Branch, Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology, National Institute on Aging, NIH
  • Evan Hadley, M.D., Director, Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology, National Institute on Aging, NIH

NIH is the sole funder of the CALERIE study.


NIA spokespeople are available for interviews by phone or email.

Kraus will discuss these findings in a podcast produced by The Lancet, as well as the public health implications of calorie restriction on incidence of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

About the National Institute on Aging (NIA): The NIA leads the federal government effort conducting and supporting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. The Institute’s broad scientific program seeks to understand the nature of aging and to extend the healthy, active years of life. For more information on research, aging, and health, go to

About the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK): The NIDDK, part of the NIH, conducts and supports basic and clinical research and research training on some of the most common, severe, and disabling conditions affecting Americans. The Institute’s research interests include diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutrition, and obesity; and kidney, urologic, and hematologic diseases. For more information, visit

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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