Last Night's Television: Horizon, BBC2<br />Natural World, BBC2

"It's a very young field," somebody said about gerontology in the Horizon film "Don't Grow Old". I expect this is a bit of a chestnut at gerontology conferences, one of those jokes that you hope will die soon but just keeps staggering on from year to year. It doesn't even seem to be true, either, since it wasn't long before the voiceover was explaining that scientists have known for at least 80 years about the life-extending properties of a low-calorie diet. Apparently, laboratory mice, which don't have a choice in the matter, manage to stick around for up to 30 per cent longer if they spend their lives in a state of permanent starvation. As a result, there are people who do have a choice, and should know better, who have adopted calorie slashing themselves, apparently untroubled by the fact that the extra 30 per cent of life you get is at least 60 per cent less worth living. You can't even have a drink to take your mind off the boredom. David Sinclair, first seen here tucking into something that looked unhealthily delicious, had had a far better idea: find out what starvation was doing to the body and see if you could find a drug to mimic it. Preferably one that you can grind into powder and sprinkle over a Châteaubriand with hollandaise sauce. He recently sold his company to GlaxoSmithKline for $270m, which rather suggests that they think he's pulled it off. In the meantime, he's already started taking the substance called resveratrol, which he thinks will do the trick: "It's still an investigational molecule," he said cheerfully, "but I felt the science was strong enough for me to take that risk."

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