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Nutr Res. 2011 Jan;31(1):9-13. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2010.12.008.

Little impact of resting energy expenditure on childhood weight and body composition: a longitudinal study (EarlyBird 47).

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Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Peninsula Medical School, Plymouth campus, UK.


The role of resting energy expenditure (REE) in the development of obesity in children is controversial. Our aim was to test the hypothesis that REE has a meaningful impact on change in weight or body composition in healthy children. Resting energy expenditure by indirect calorimetry and body composition by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry were measured in 236 children (131 boys) on 7 annual occasions (7-13 years). The effect of REE at 7 years on change in weight and body composition was analyzed using linear mixed effects models. In neither sex was there an interaction between REE at 7 years and change in weight (P > .9). There were weak associations between REE at 7 years and change in body composition in boys but not in girls: for a 418 kJ (100 kcal) lower REE at 7 years, an increase in rate of change in fat mass of approximately 0.1 kg/y and in percentage of fat of 0.2% per year and a decrease in fat-free mass of 0.1 kg/y. Change in REE during follow-up was not significantly associated with body composition changes in either sex (P > .06). Thus, REE has little impact on the wide variation in weight gain at this age; although in boys, some fat was simply exchanged for lean, the effect was small. Resting energy expenditure does not appear to provide an explanation for childhood obesity.

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