Research study helps participant lose weight, improve quality of life


Released: Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Diana Pietrogallo was never considered overweight, but as she hit 40, the scale began to creep up more than she'd like. That's when she joined the CALERIE II research study at LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Study.

The study aimed to learn whether cutting calories by up to 25 percent for two years in people who were not obese could reduce the risk for chronic disease, improve quality of life and have a positive effect on predictors of longevity.

Findings from the study showed that cutting calories by 10 to 25 percent in normal weight or slightly overweight people decreased risk factors for diseases associated with aging. This is important, since such findings suggest that eating less might lead to a longer life. The data also reflected that participants reported better health-related quality of life, including improved mood, reduced tension and improved general health. Pietrogallo enthusiastically reports that cutting her calories - from 2,000 per day to 1,500 - brought resoundingly positive results to her life.

"I felt better and it helped me have more energy throughout the day," Pietrogallo said. "The CALERIE II study gave me all the tools I needed to live a healthier lifestyle. It really taught me how to eat. We worked intensively with registered dietitians to learn how to estimate our food portions properly and to track our food consumption. Being in the study also helped me learn to mix my protein, fats and carbs so I felt satisfied and so I got the most food for my calorie counts without feeling hungry."

Pietrogallo also had access to a plethora of test results from participation in the study that she received free as part of the study and was able to share with her primary care physician, including  glucose tolerance tests, EKGs to determine how well her heart worked, MRIs, and body composition scans that showed bone, muscle and fat.

"Not only did I get all this great information about my personal health at no cost to me, but I also got paid to participate in the study," Pietrogallo said.

Nearly a decade later, Pietrogallo still mostly sticks with the eating plan and lowered calorie count, which she says has helped her to maintain a healthy weight and make better choices as she gets older.

"My family was impressed with all the food I could eat for 1,500 calories," Pietrogallo said. "My daughter was in high school when I was in the study and I cooked for the family, so when I started preparing lighter meals and really portioning my food, it got her interested in nutrition. Now, she's got her degree in dietetics and is on the road to becoming a registered dietitian."

Pietrogallo had such a positive experience at Pennington Biomedical that she considers many of its employees friends and has signed up for more research studies. Said Pietrogallo:

"They really made it easy to participate in research, and it has definitely benefited my life."

To learn more about how you can participate in a research study, visit or call 225-763-3000.


For more information on how you can support this and other projects at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center, visit