The Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Periodic fasting can be just as good for the health as sharply cutting back on calories, even if the fasting doesn't mean eating less overall, a new study indicates.
Researchers are now planning to see if what works in mice is also good for people.
Several recent studies have reported a variety of benefits from a sharply restricted diet, including longer life span, increased insulin sensitivity and stress resistance.
In the new report, mice that were fed only every other day - but could gorge on the days they did eat - saw similar health benefits to ones that had their diet reduced by 40 percent, a team of researchers reports in today's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The cause of health improvements from cutting back on diet isn't fully understood.
But the study by Mark P. Mattson and colleagues at the National Institute on Aging found equal benefits for mice that ate only every other day, but didn't cut total calories because they ate twice as much on feeding days.
Mattson said a study is in the planning stages to compare the health of a group of people fed the normal three meals a day with a similar group, eating the same diet and amount of food, but consuming it within four hours and then fasting for 20 hours before eating again.
"Overeating is a big problem now in this country," Mattson said. "Our study suggests that skipping meals is not bad for you."
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