Comparing different measures of energy expenditure in human subjects resident in a metabolic facility

Z. Fuller, Graham W Horgan, L. M. O'Reilly, P. Ritz, Eric Milne, R. J. Stubbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To compare energy expenditure ( EE) measured by doubly labeled water ( DLW) with other measures, both physical and based on subjective questionnaires.

Design: A comparison of methods in a stratified sample of adult volunteers.

Setting: The feeding behaviour suite ( FBS) at the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen.

Subjects: A total of 59 subjects, stratified for age, sex and body mass index ( BMI).

Interventions: EE was assessed by DLW ( validated using measurements of energy balance), heart rate monitor ( HRM), activity monitor ( Caltrac), 24- h physical activity diary ( PAD) and 7- day physical activity recall. Energy intake was assessed using covert ( investigator- weighed) food intake ( EI). Data were collected over a 12- day period of residence in the Rowett's FBS.

Results: No methods correlated highly with physical activity assessed by DLW. Physical methods correlated more closely than did subjective recording. All methods ( except EI) significantly underestimated EE, estimated by DLW. There were no significant differences in association between methods and sex, age, BMI or fat- free mass.

Conclusion: EE is difficult to measure precisely or accurately with current approaches but physical methods are slightly better than subjective accounts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)560-569
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number4
Early online date28 Mar 2007
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008


  • doubly labeled water
  • physical activity level
  • human
  • free living
  • heart-rate
  • activity diary
  • validation
  • questionnaire
  • reliability
  • exercise
  • validity
  • samples


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