Whole-body energy expenditure is the summed metabolic activities of tissues and, to remove the influence of body size, ratios of energy expenditure to body mass are often applied but can generate spurious differences. In 2011, a group of experts proposed adoption of ANCOVA for the analysis of metabolic rate but, seven years later, analyses based on ratios remain the most frequent. We discuss some of the barriers to adopting better analytical procedures.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $21.58 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
NCD-RisC. Lancet 387, 1377–1396 (2016).
Wardle, J. & Boniface, D. Int. J. Obes. 32, 527–32 (2008).
Lam, Y. Y. & Ravussin, E. Mol. Metab. 5, 1057–1071 (2016).
Lighton, J. R. B. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 71, 301–305 (2017).
Tanner, J. M. J. Appl. Physiol. 2, 1–15 (1949). First paper calling for attention regarding the fallacy of expressing physiological variables per unit of body size.
Cochran, W. G. Biometrics 13, 261–281 (1957).
Ravussin, E., Lillioja, S., Anderson, T. E., Christin, L. & Bogardus, C. J. Clin. Invest. 78, 1568–1578 (1986).
Packard, G. C. & Boardman, T. J. Physiol. Zool. 61, 1–9 (1988).
Arch, J. R. S., Hislop, D., Wang, S. J. Y. & Speakman, J. R. Int. J. Obes. 30, 1322–1331 (2006).
Butler, A. A. & Kozak, L. P. Diabetes 59, 323–9 (2010).
Tschöp, M. H. et al. Nat. Methods 9, 57–63 (2011).
Hall, K. D. et al. Lancet 378, 826–37 (2011).
Heymsfield, S. B. et al. Am. J. Physiol. Endocrinol. Metab. 282, 132–138 (2002).
Ravussin, E. & Bogardus, C. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 49, 968–975 (1989). Remarkable analysis of the main determinants of energy expenditure in humans. This paper also elaborates the need for proper analysis when comparing individuals of different body size.
Kleiber, M. The Fire of Life: An introduction to animal energetics (Wiley, 1961).
Mitchell, S. E. et al. Oncotarget 8, 17453–17474 (2017).
Javed, F. et al. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 91, 907–12 (2010).
Speakman, J. R. Front. Physiol. 4, 34 (2013).
Tracy, C. & Sugar, J. Physiol. Zool. 62, 993–997 (1989).
Mina, A. I. et al. Cell Metab. 28, 656–666 (2018).
R.F.V. was supported by Fondecyt #11180361 (Conicyt, Chile). J.E.G was supported by Fondecyt #1170117 (Conicyt, Chile).
The authors declare no competing interests.
About this article
Cite this article
Fernández-Verdejo, R., Ravussin, E., Speakman, J.R. et al. Progress and challenges in analyzing rodent energy expenditure. Nat Methods 16, 797–799 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41592-019-0513-9
Improvement of obesity-associated disorders by a small-molecule drug targeting mitochondria of adipose tissue macrophages
Nature Communications (2021)
Nature Communications (2020)
Ileal transposition: A non-restrictive bariatric surgical procedure that reduces body fat and increases ingestion-related energy expenditure
Physiology & Behavior (2020)
Thirty Mouse Strain Survey of Voluntary Physical Activity and Energy Expenditure: Influence of Strain, Sex and Day–Night Variation
Frontiers in Neuroscience (2020)