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Am J Clin Nutr. 1985 Nov;42(5):753-63.

The energy cost of common daily activities in African women: increased expenditure in pregnancy?


We have performed, by open-circuit indirect calorimetry, a total of 1546 measurements of energy expenditure on 142 nonpregnant, pregnant, or lactating Gambian village women. Of the 47 common daily activities measured, only 7 would be classified as moderate according to internationally accepted standards, the remainder being light (ie requiring less than 3.5 kcal/min). This was unexpected since many of the tasks, judged subjectively, appeared quite demanding. Furthermore there was no increase towards the end of pregnancy in the energy cost of a range of activities requiring 1-5 kcal/min and involving a variety of body movements, despite the substantial weight gains observed. Only for walking was there the expected increase in energy expenditure. Although in the past it has been assumed that the heavier pregnant women would require additional energy for activity, no special allowance for this is included in current dietary recommendations. The present results indicate that, for women from the developing world, no allowance is necessary. The finding that most activities were light is also of relevance to total energy requirements in this community.

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