Energy balance measurement: When something is not better than nothing

N. V. Dhurandhar, D. Schoeller, A. W. Brown, S. B. Heymsfield, D. Thomas, T. I A Sørensen, J. R. Speakman, M. Jeansonne, D. B. Allison*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

379 Citations (Scopus)


Energy intake (EI) and physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE) are key modifiable determinants of energy balance, traditionally assessed by self-report despite its repeated demonstration of considerable inaccuracies. We argue here that it is time to move from the common view that self-reports of EI and PAEE are imperfect, but nevertheless deserving of use, to a view commensurate with the evidence that self-reports of EI and PAEE are so poor that they are wholly unacceptable for scientific research on EI and PAEE. While new strategies for objectively determining energy balance are in their infancy, it is unacceptable to use decidedly inaccurate instruments, which may misguide health-care policies, future research and clinical judgment. The scientific and medical communities should discontinue reliance on self-reported EI and PAEE. Researchers and sponsors should develop objective measures of energy balance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1109-1113
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number7
Early online date13 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2015

Bibliographical note

Dr Allison, Dr Brown and Ms Jeansonne are supported in part by grant P30DK056336 from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIH or any other organization.


  • Epidemiology
  • Nutrition
  • Obesity


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