Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Physiology

Activity energy expenditure is an independent predictor of energy intake in humans

Abstract

Background

There is evidence that the energetic demand of metabolically active tissue is associated with day-to-day food intake (EI). However, the extent to which behavioural components of total daily energy expenditure (EE) such as activity energy expenditure (AEE) are also associated with EI is unknown. Therefore, the present study examined the cross-sectional associations between body composition, resting metabolic rate (RMR), AEE and EI.

Methods

Data for 242 individuals (114 males; 128 females; BMI = 25.7 ± 4.9 kg/m2) were collated from the baseline control conditions of five studies employing common measures of body composition (air displacement plethysmography) and RMR (indirect calorimetry). Daily EI (weighed-dietary records) and EE (FLEX heart rate) were measured over 6–7 days, and AEE was calculated as total daily EE minus RMR.

Results

Linear regression indicated that RMR (ß= 0.39; P< 0.001), fat mass (ß= −0.26; P< 0.001) and AEE (ß= 0.18; P= 0.002) were independent predictors of mean daily EI, with AEE adding ≈3% of variance to the model after controlling for age, sex and study (F(10, 231) = 18.532, P < 0.001; R2 = 0.445). Path analyses indicated that the effect of FFM on mean daily EI was mediated by RMR (P < 0.05), while direct (β = 0.19; P < 0.001) and indirect (β = 0.20; P = 0.001) associations between AEE and mean daily EI were observed.

Conclusions

When physical activity was allowed to vary under free-living conditions, AEE was associated with mean daily EI independently of other biological determinants of EI arising from body composition and RMR. These data suggest that EE per se exerts influence over daily food intake, with both metabolic (RMR) and behavioral (AEE) components of total daily EE potentially influencing EI via their contribution to daily energy requirements.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. Webster AJ. Energy partitioning, tissue growth and appetite control. Proc Nutr Soc. 1993;52:69–76.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Policy PoDRVotCoMAoF. Dietary reference values for food energy and nutrients for the United Kingdom: report of the panel on dietary reference values of the committee on medical aspects of food policy, HM Stationery Office, 1991.

  3. De Castro JM. How can energy balance be achieved by free-living human subjects? Proc Nutr Soc. 1997;56:1–14.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Hopkins M, Beaulieu K, Myers A, Gibbons C, Blundell JE. Mechanisms responsible for homeostatic appetite control: theoretical advances and practical implications. Expert Rev Endocrinol Metab. 2017;12:401–15.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Weise C, Hohenadel M, Krakoff J, Votruba S. Body composition and energy expenditure predict ad-libitum food and macronutrient intake in humans. Int J Obes. 2013;38:243–51.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Lissner L, Habicht J-P, Strupp BJ, Levitsky D, Haas JD, Roe D. Body composition and energy intake: do overweight women overeat and underreport? Am J Clin Nutr. 1989;49:320–5.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Caudwell P, Finlayson G, Gibbons C, Hopkins M, King N, Naslund E, et al. Resting metabolic rate is associated with hunger, self-determined meal size, and daily energy intake and may represent a marker for appetite. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;97:7–14.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. McNeil J, Lamothe G, Cameron JD, Riou M-È, Cadieux S, Lafrenière J, et al. Investigating predictors of eating: is resting metabolic rate really the strongest proxy of energy intake? Am J Clin Nutr. 2017;106:1206–12.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Blundell JE, Caudwell P, Gibbons C, Hopkins M, Näslund E, King NA, et al. Body composition and appetite: fat-free mass (but not fat mass or BMI) is positively associated with self-determined meal size and daily energy intake in humans. Brit J Nutr. 2011;107:445–49.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Hopkins M, Finlayson G, Duarte C, Whybrow S, Horgan GW, Blundell J, et al. Modelling the associations between fat-free mass, resting metabolic rate and energy intake in the context of total energy balance. Int J Obes. 2015;40:312–8.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Hopkins M, Finlayson G, Duarte C, Gibbons C, Johnstone A, Whybrow S et al. Biological and psychological mediators of the relationships between fat mass, fat-free mass and energy intake. Int J Obesity. 2018. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-018-0059-4.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Piaggi P, Thearle MS, Krakoff J, Votruba SB. Higher daily energy expenditure and respiratory quotient, rather than fat free mass, independently determine greater ad libitum overeating. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015;100:3011–20.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  13. Lam YY, Ravussin E. Variations in energy intake: it is more complicated than we think. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017;106:1169–70.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Ravussin E, Lillioja S, Anderson T, Christin L, Bogardus C. Determinants of 24-hour energy expenditure in man. Methods and results using a respiratory chamber. J Clin Invest. 1986;78:1568–78.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  15. Schubert MM, Desbrow B, Sabapathy S, Leveritt M. Acute exercise and subsequent energy intake: A meta-analysis. Appetite. 2012;63:92–104.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Donnelly JE, Herrmann SD, Lambourne K, Szabo AN, Honas JJ, Washburn RA. Does increased exercise or physical activity alter ad-libitum daily energy intake or macronutrient composition in healthy adults? A systematic review. PLoS ONE. 2014;9:e83498.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  17. Stubbs R, Sepp A, Hughes D, Johnstone A, King N, Horgan G, et al. The effect of graded levels of exercise on energy intake and balance in free-living women. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2002;26:866–9.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Stubbs R, Sepp A, Hughes D, Johnstone A, Horgan G, King N, et al. The effect of graded levels of exercise on energy intake and balance in free-living men, consuming their normal diet. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002;56:129–40.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Whybrow S, Hughes D, Ritz P, Johnstone A, Horgan G, King N, et al. The effect of an incremental increase in exercise on appetite, eating behaviour and energy balance in lean men and women feeding ad libitum. Br J Nutr. 2008;100:1109–15.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. King NA, Hopkins M, Caudwell P, Stubbs R, Blundell JE. Individual variability following 12 weeks of supervised exercise: identification and characterization of compensation for exercise-induced weight loss. Int J Obes. 2008;32:177–84.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  21. Beaulieu K, Hopkins M, Blundell J, Finlayson G. Does habitual physical activity increase the sensitivity of the appetite control system? A systematic review. Sports Med. 2016;46:1897–919.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Mayer J, Roy P, Mitra K. Relation between caloric intake, body weight, and physical work: studies in an industrial male population in West Bengal. Am J Clin Nutr. 1956;4:169.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Blundell J. Physical activity and appetite control: can we close the energy gap? Nutr Bull. 2011;36:356–66.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Stubbs RJ, O’Reilly LM, Whybrow S, Fuller Z, Johnstone AM, Livingstone MBE, et al. Measuring the difference between actual and reported food intakes in the context of energy balance under laboratory conditions. Brit J Nutr. 2014;111:2032–43.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Whybrow S, Stubbs R, Johnstone A, O’reilly L, Fuller Z, Livingstone M, et al. Plausible self-reported dietary intakes in a residential facility are not necessarily reliable. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016;70:130–5.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Whybrow S, Harrison CL, Mayer C, Stubbs RJ. Effects of added fruits and vegetables on dietary intakes and body weight in Scottish adults. Brit J Nutr. 2006;95:496–503.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. Whybrow S, Mayer C, Kirk TR, Mazlan N, Stubbs RJ. Effects of two weeks’ mandatory snack consumption on energy intake and energy balance. Obesity. 2007;15:673–85.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. Fuller Z, Horgan G, O’reilly L, Ritz P, Milne E, Stubbs R. Comparing different measures of energy expenditure in human subjects resident in a metabolic facility. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2008;62:560–9.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Johnstone AM, Murison SD, Duncan JS, Rance KA, Speakman JR. Factors influencing variation in basal metabolic rate include fat-free mass, fat mass, age, and circulating thyroxine but not sex, circulating leptin, or triiodothyronine. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;82:941–8.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. Stubbs R, Sepp A, Hughes D, Johnstone A, King N, Horgan G, et al. The effect of graded levels of exercise on energy intake and balance in free-living women. Int J Obes. 2002;26:866–9.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  31. Fields DA, Goran MI, McCrory MA. Body-composition assessment via air-displacement plethysmography in adults and children: a review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002;75:453–67.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. Ginde SR, Geliebter A, Rubiano F, Silva AM, Wang J, Heshka S, et al. Air displacement plethysmography: validation in overweight and obese subjects. Obesity. 2005;13:1232–7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Durnin JV, Womersley J. Body fat assessed from total body density and its estimation from skinfold thickness: measurements on 481 men and women aged from 16 to 72 years. Brit J Nutr. 1974;32:77–97.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. Elia M, Livesey G. Energy expenditure and fuel selection in biological systems: the theory and practice of calculations based on indirect calorimetry and tracer methods. World Rev Nutr Diet. 1991;70:68–131.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Ceesay SM, Prentice AM, Day KC, Murgatroyd PR, Goldberg GR, Scott W, et al. The use of heart rate monitoring in the estimation of energy expenditure: a validation study using indirect whole-body calorimetry. Brit J Nutr. 1989;61:175–86.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Elia M, Livesey G. Energy expenditure and fuel selection in biological systems: the theory and practice of calculations based on indirect calorimetry and tracer methods. In: Metabolic Control of Eating, Energy Expenditure and the Bioenergetics of Obesity. (Karger Publishers, Washington, DC, 1992) pp 68–131.

  37. Stubbs R, Hughes D, Johnstone A, Whybrow S, Horgan G, King N, et al. Rate and extent of compensatory changes in energy intake and expenditure in response to altered exercise and diet composition in humans. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2004;286:350.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Spurr G, Prentice A, Murgatroyd P, Goldberg G, Reina J, Christman N. Energy expenditure from minute-by-minute heart-rate recording: comparison with indirect calorimetry. Am J Clin Nutr. 1988;48:552–9.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. Goldberg G, Prentice A, Davies H, Murgatroyd P. Overnight and basal metabolic rates in men and women. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1988;42:137–44.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  40. Wareham NJ, Hennings SJ, Prentice AM, Day NE. Feasibility of heart-rate monitoring to estimate total level and pattern of energy expenditure in a population-based epidemiological study: the Ely Young Cohort Feasibility Study 1994–5. Brit J Nutr. 1997;78:889–900.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  41. Blundell J, Caudwell P, Gibbons C, Hopkins M, Naslund E, King N, et al. Body composition and appetite: fat-free mass (but not fat-mass or BMI) is positively associated with self-determined meal size and daily energy intake in humans. Brit J Nutr. 2012;107:445–59.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  42. Hair JF, Tatham RL, Anderson RE, Black W. Multivariate data analysis. vol. 6 (Pearson Prentice Hall; New Jersey:2006).

  43. Soper DS. A-priori Sample Size Calculator for Structural Equation Models [Software]. In, 2018.

  44. Kline RB. Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. (Guilford press: New York, 2005).

  45. Forbes GB. Body fat content influences the body composition response to nutrition and exercise. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2000;904:359–65.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  46. Hall KD, Sacks G, Chandramohan D, Chow CC, Wang YC, Gortmaker SL, et al. Quantification of the effect of energy imbalance on bodyweight. Lancet. 2011;378:826–37.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  47. Leonard WR. Measuring human energy expenditure: what have we learned from the flex‐heart rate method? Am J Hum Biol. 2003;15:479–89.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  48. Calabro MA, Kim Y, Franke WD, Stewart JM, Welk GJ. Objective and subjective measurement of energy expenditure in older adults: a doubly labeled water study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015;69:850.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  49. Blundell J, King N. Effects of exercise on appetite control: loose coupling between energy expenditure and energy intake. Int J Obes. 1998;22:S22–S29.

    Google Scholar 

  50. King NA, Caudwell PP, Hopkins M, Stubbs JR, Naslund E, Blundell JE. Dual-process action of exercise on appetite control: increase in orexigenic drive but improvement in meal-induced satiety. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;90:921–7.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  51. Horner K, Byrne N, Cleghorn G, Näslund E, King N. The effects of weight loss strategies on gastric emptying and appetite control. Obes Rev 2011;12:935–51.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  52. Stensel D. Exercise, appetite and appetite-regulating hormones: implications for food intake and weight control. Ann Nutr Metab. 2010;57:36–42.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  53. Bryant E, King N, Blundell J. Disinhibition: its effects on appetite and weight regulation. Obes Rev. 2008;9:409–19.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  54. Schwartz MW, Seeley RJ, Zeltser LM, Drewnowski A, Ravussin E, Redman LM, et al. Obesity pathogenesis: an Endocrine Society scientific statement. Endocr Rev. 2017;38:267–96.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  55. de Castro JM. Eating behavior: lessons from the real world of humans. Nutr . 2000;16:800–13.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Murgatroyd P, Shetty P, Prentice A. Techniques for the measurement of human energy expenditure: a practical guide. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1993;17:549–68.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  57. Nutrition TSACo. The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommendations on carbohydrates, including sugars and fibre, 2015.

  58. Granata GP, Brandon LJ. The thermic effect of food and obesity: discrepant results and methodological variations. Nutr Rev. 2002;60:223–33.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  59. King JA, Deighton K, Broom DR, Wasse LK, Douglas JA, Burns SF, et al. Individual variation in hunger, energy intake, and ghrelin responses to acute exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2017;49:1219–28.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors’ responsibilities were as follows: RJS, GWH, AMJ and SW conceived the individual studies; RJS, SW, AMJ and the project team (Leona O’Reilley and Zoe Fuller) conducted the research. MH, CD and GWH analysed the data & performed the statistical analysis. MH, JB, RJS and GF and wrote the initial manuscript, while all authors commented on and approved the manuscript. RJS had primary responsibility for final content.

Funding

The present study was funded by the Food Standards Agency, UK, and The Scottish Government’s Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division. None of the funding bodies had a role in the design, analysis or writing of this article.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mark Hopkins.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hopkins, M., Duarte, C., Beaulieu, K. et al. Activity energy expenditure is an independent predictor of energy intake in humans. Int J Obes 43, 1466–1474 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-018-0308-6

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-018-0308-6

This article is cited by

Search

Quick links