Original Article | Published:

Clinical Studies and Practice

Modelling the associations between fat-free mass, resting metabolic rate and energy intake in the context of total energy balance

International Journal of Obesity volume 40, pages 312318 (2016) | Download Citation

Abstract

Background:

The relationship between body composition, energy expenditure and ad libitum energy intake (EI) has rarely been examined under conditions that allow any interplay between these variables to be disclosed.

Objective:

The present study examined the relationships between body composition, energy expenditure and EI under controlled laboratory conditions in which the energy density and macronutrient content of the diet varied freely as a function of food choice.

Methods:

Fifty-nine subjects (30 men: mean body mass index=26.7±4.0 kg m−2; 29 women: mean body mass index=25.4±3.5 kg m2) completed a 14-day stay in a residential feeding behaviour suite. During days 1 and 2, subjects consumed a fixed diet designed to maintain energy balance. On days 3–14, food intake was covertly measured in subjects who had ad libitum access to a wide variety of foods typical of their normal diets. Resting metabolic rate (RMR; respiratory exchange), total daily energy expenditure (doubly labelled water) and body composition (total body water estimated from deuterium dilution) were measured on days 3–14.

Results:

Hierarchical multiple regression indicated that after controlling for age and sex, both fat-free mass (FFM; P<0.001) and RMR (P<0.001) predicted daily EI. However, a mediation model using path analysis indicated that the effect of FFM (and fat mass) on EI was fully mediated by RMR (P<0.001).

Conclusions:

These data indicate that RMR is a strong determinant of EI under controlled laboratory conditions where food choice is allowed to freely vary and subjects are close to energy balance. Therefore, the conventional adipocentric model of appetite control should be revised to reflect the influence of RMR.

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Acknowledgements

RJS is partly employed by Slimming World. GWH is funded by the Scottish Government's Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division. JB, GF and MH acknowledge the support of the Biosciences and Biotechnology Research Council (BBSRC) grants BBS/B/05079 and BB/G005524/1. CD is supported by a PhD grant (SFRH/BD/76858/2011), sponsored by FCT (Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology).

Author contributions

RJS, GWH and SW conceived the project; RJS, SW and the project team (Leona O’reilley and Zoe Fuller) conducted the research. JB proposed the manuscript. CD, GWH, GF, MH and RJS analysed the data and performed the statistical analysis. MH, GF, JB and RJS wrote the initial manuscript, while all authors commented on the manuscript. RJS had primary responsibility for the final content.

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Affiliations

  1. Academy of Sport and Physical Activity, Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK

    • M Hopkins
  2. Institute of Psychological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

    • M Hopkins
    • , G Finlayson
    •  & J E Blundell
  3. Cognitive and Behavioural Centre for Research and Intervention, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal

    • C Duarte
  4. Public Health Nutrition Research Group, Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK

    • S Whybrow
  5. UMR Inserm 1027, Université Paul Sabatier, CHU de Toulouse, France

    • P Ritz
  6. Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland, Aberdeen, UK

    • G W Horgan
  7. College of Life and Natural Sciences, University of Derby, Derby, UK

    • R J Stubbs

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Competing interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to R J Stubbs.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2015.155

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