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Does early-life diet affect longevity? A meta-analysis across experimental studies

Author:
  • Sinead English
  • Tobias Uller
Publishing year: 2016-09-01
Language: English
Publication/Series: Biology Letters
Volume: 12
Issue: 9
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Royal Society

Abstract english

Life-history theory predicts that nutrition influences lifespan owing to tradeoffs between allocating resources to reproduction, growth and repair. Despite occasional reports that early diet has strong effects on lifespan, it is unclear whether this prediction is generally supported by empirical studies. We conducted a meta-analysis across experimental studies manipulating pre- or post-natal diet and measuring longevity. We found no overall effect of early diet on lifespan. We used meta-regression, considering moderator variables based on experimental and life-history traits, to test predictions regarding the strength and direction of effects that could lead to positive or negative effects. Pre-natal diet manipulations reduced lifespan, but there were no effects of later diet, manipulation type, development mode, or sex. The results are consistent with the prediction that early diet restriction disrupts growth and results in increased somatic damage, which incurs lifespan costs. Our findings raise a cautionary note, however, for placing too strong an emphasis on early diet effects on lifespan and highlight limitations of measuring these effects under laboratory conditions.

Keywords

  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Caloric restriction
  • Early development
  • Lifespan
  • Meta-analysis
  • Nutrition

Other

Published
  • ISSN: 1744-9561
Tobias Uller
E-mail: tobias.uller [at] biol.lu.se

Professor

Evolutionary ecology

+46 46 222 30 94

E-C256

Sölvegatan 37, Lund

50

Research group

Experimental Evolution, Ecology & Behaviour

Projects

Doctoral students and postdocs

I am currently about to move to Lund from University of Oxford. For details about DPhil students and postdocs in my previous research group based at the Edward Grey Institute, please click here

Downloads & links

CV (pdf; 241 kB)