[lit-ideas] Re: Correction and Weight Watchers (1974)

  • From: andy amago <aamago@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 8 May 2004 08:56:11 -0700 (PDT)

-----Original Message-----
From: Erin Holder <erin.holder@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: May 8, 2004 8:49 AM
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Correction and Weight Watchers (1974)


Cool.  This stuff sounds right up Roy's alley, or bagpipes as the case may =
be.  Check out this bio of him.


Roy Walford

We don't know if what works for lab mice will also work for men, but 75-yea=
r-old Roy Walford aims to find out.=20

He was 17 when he announced in his high school newspaper that life is too s=
hort to do everything one could want to do=97and he has spent the rest of h=
is life figuring out how to extend it.

Walford's work as a medical researcher helped to show that mice live longer=
 on a low-calorie diet. Their typical life span is about 39 months (equival=
ent to 110 human years, we're told). That tenure can be extended to as many=
 as 56 months if the critters are fed a restricted diet decreasing the norm=
al calorie intake by 40 percent. "We've found that a 36-month-old restricte=
d mouse will run a maze with the same facility as a 6-month-old normally fe=
d mouse," Walford told Discover magazine (Feb. 2000). "That's a substantial=
 preservation of intellectual function."

The hitch: it looked at first as if the mice had to start the low-cal diet =
when very young for it to do them any good. But in the 1980s, Walford learn=
ed that even middle-aged mice could benefit from the slashed diet so long a=
s they were introduced to it gradually.

Never one to restrict his theorizing to the armchair, Walford thereupon com=
menced a restricted diet for himself as well. He has reduced his calorie in=
take to 1500 or so a day, and sustained that regimen for the better part of=
 two decades.

Increasing the length of life is only half the Walford life extension progr=
am, though. Walford also works to achieve what he calls "sign posts"=97the =
undertaking of unusual exploits that add zest and variety to life. =20

Some of Walford's sign posts:

* As a recent college graduate in the late 40s, figured out how to win at t=
he roulette table so he could fund a sailing trip around the world. =20

* At age 48, broke his motorcycle and a leg while attempting a wheelie on L=
A's Santa Monica Boulevard.

* A couple years later, took a sabbatical from UCLA to spend a year trekkin=
g through India; later made the same peripatetic journey through Africa.

* In 1991, now 67, Walford holed up with several colleagues in the "self-co=
ntained ecosystem" of Biosphere 2. The econauts could barely harvest enough=
 food to survive the two-year episode (they agreed not to import any susten=
ance from the outside).=20

This is a guy who doesn't save anything for the return trip, an approach no=
t without risks. The scanty diet plus constant grueling labor injured his b=
ack. More seriously, his nervous system was permanently damaged, apparently=
 as a result of nitrous oxide buildup in the enclosed atmosphere. (The effe=
cts were evident only after Walford had left the Biosphere.) He can now bar=
ely walk, but other than that he's in great shape.

What's next for Roy Walford? He's thinking of pursuing studies in either hi=
story or mathematics. "It might be interesting to try my hand at mathematic=
s, because everyone assumes it's a young man's game."

At 75, he's got maybe just a few more years in which to prove himself=97or =
a hundred.



Quoting andy amago <aamago@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>:

> Just as I was waking up today it came to me that in the recent fat posts,=
> wrote that a BMI of 26 or higher is obese.  Wrong.  26 to 30 is overweigh=
> 30 or over is obese.  The mechanism behind aging, whether it be genetic, =
> radical, infammatory, whatever, is only being guessed at.  I think it's s=
> to say death will be with us for quite a while. =20
> Argh, I just googled up Roy Walford.  He died a couple of weeks ago, and =
> was only 80.  Well then, live and learn.  And die.  So, Donal, you're rig=
> To heck with this biochemical machine.  In the battle of the Sybarites vs=
> the Spartans, Dr. Kevorkian wins.  Looks like what works in laboratory
> animals doesn't always translate to humans.  Most likely the most we can =
> for is to improve the quality of our lives, not the quantity.  Michael
> Jacobson be damned.  A big bag of Nachos and brie looks like real quality=
> me.
> Okay then.  Where's my skirt?=20
> A.A.
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