Energetic basis of correlation between catch-up growth, health maintenance, and aging

Chen Hou, Kendra M. Bolt, Aviv Bergman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Catch-up growth, referring to infants with low birth weight reaching or exceeding normal body weight later in life, is negatively correlated to adult health outcome and life span. Life history theories have suggested that there exist trade-offs between early development and later health maintenance, but detailed mechanisms and the currency of the trade-off are unclear. In this paper, we present a general theoretical model for quantitatively elucidating the trade-off between growth rate and health maintenance in mammals from an energetic viewpoint. Based on the fundamental principles of energy conservation and organisms ' energy budgets, our model analyzes the allocation of metabolic energy to growth and health maintenance in different sets of pre natal and post natal environments. Our model also implies a relationship between growth rate and the general process of aging. Life-span predictions are supported by quantitative and qualitative empirical observations and offer theoretical frameworks for future experimental designs and data analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)627-638
Number of pages12
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Volume66 A
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Aging
  • Catch-up growth
  • Energy trade-off
  • Health maintenance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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