Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Brain size, body size and longevity

Abstract

In this analysis, we bring together two research fields that have never been associated before: the clinical issue ‘Quételet's body-mass index and longevity’ and the comparative biological issue ‘body–brain allometry’. Comparison of medical and biological data supports the view that body mass index is just a one-to-one mapping of the body–brain–energy balance—a biological variable indicating that an individual maintains its systemic energy homeostasis and therefore is likely to perform well in the coming years.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type

from$1.95

to$39.95

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1

References

  1. Whitlock G, Lewington S, Sherliker P, Clarke R, Emberson J, Halsey J et al. Body-mass index and cause-specific mortality in 900 000 adults: collaborative analyses of 57 prospective studies. Lancet 2009; 373: 1083–1096.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Pischon T, Boeing H, Hoffmann K, Bergmann M, Schulze MB, Overvad K et al. General and abdominal adiposity and risk of death in Europe. N Engl J Med 2008; 359: 2105–2120.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Bales CW, Buhr GT . Body mass trajectory, energy balance, and weight loss as determinants of health and mortality in older adults. Obes Facts 2009; 2: 171–178.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Quételet MA . A Treatise on Man and the Development of His Faculties. William and Robert Chambers: Edinburgh, 1842.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Holzenberger M, Dupont J, Ducos B, Leneuve P, Geloen A, Even PC et al. IGF-1 receptor regulates lifespan and resistance to oxidative stress in mice. Nature 2003; 421: 182–187.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Taguchi A, Wartschow LM, White MF . Brain IRS2 signaling coordinates life span and nutrient homeostasis. Science 2007; 317: 369–372.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Armstrong E . Relative brain size and metabolism in mammals. Science 1983; 220: 1302–1304.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Mink JW, Blumenschine RJ, Adams DB . Ratio of central nervous system to body metabolism in vertebrates: its constancy and functional basis. Am J Physiol 1981; 241: R203–R212.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Martin RD . Relative brain size and basal metabolic rate in terrestrial vertebrates. Nature 1981; 293: 57–60.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Glazier DS . Beyond the ‘3/4-power law’: variation in the intra- and interspecific scaling of metabolic rate in animals. Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc 2005; 80: 611–662.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Hofman MA . Energy metabolism, brain size and longevity in mammals. Q Rev Biol 1983; 58: 495–512.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Hofman MA . Encephalization and the evolution of longevity in mammals. J Evol Biol 1993; 6: 209–227.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Peters A, Schweiger U, Pellerin L, Hubold C, Oltmanns KM, Conrad M et al. The selfish brain: competition for energy resources. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2004; 28: 143–180.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Aiello LC, Wheeler P . The expensive-tissue hypothesis: the brain and the digestive system in human and primate evolution. Curr Anthropol 1995; 36: 199–221.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Krieger M . On the atrophy of human organs in inanition. Z Angew Anat Konstitutionsl 1921; 7: 87–134.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Oltmanns KM, Melchert UH, Scholand-Engler HG, Howitz MC, Schultes B, Schweiger U et al. Differential energetic response of brain vs. skeletal muscle upon glycemic variations in healthy humans. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 2008; 294: R12–R16.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Later W, Bosy-Westphal A, Hitze B, Kossel E, Glüer C-C, Heller M et al. No evidence of mass dependency of specific organ metabolic rate in healthy humans. Am J Clin Nutr 2008; 88: 1004–1009.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Sokoloff L . Circulation & energy metabolism of the brain. In: Siegel G, Agranoff B, Albers RW, Molinoff P (eds). Basic Neurochemistry. Raven Press: New York, 1989, pp 565–590.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Peters A, Langemann D . Build-ups in the supply chain of the brain: on the neuroenergetic cause of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Front Neuroenergetics 2009; 1: 2.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by grants from the German Research Foundation (DFG Mü 714/8-3 and Clinical Research Group KFO-126).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to A Peters.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Peters, A., Hitze, B., Langemann, D. et al. Brain size, body size and longevity. Int J Obes 34, 1349–1352 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2010.65

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2010.65

Keywords

  • brain size
  • body size
  • body mass index
  • longevity

This article is cited by

Search

Quick links