Human total, basal and activity energy expenditures are independent of ambient environmental temperature

Xueying Zhang, Yosuke Yamada, Hiroyuki Sagayama, Philip N Ainslie, Ellen E Blaak, Maciej S Buchowski, Graeme L Close, Jamie A Cooper, Sai Krupa Das, Lara R Dugas, Michael Gurven, Asmaa El Hamdouchi, Sumei Hu, Noorjehan Joonas, Peter Katzmarzyk, William E Kraus, Robert F Kushner, William R Leonard, Corby K Martin, Erwin P MeijerMarian L Neuhouser, Robert M Ojiambo, Yannis P Pitsiladis, Guy Plasqui, Ross L Prentice, Susan B Racette, Eric Ravussin, Leanne M Redman, Rebecca M Reynolds, Susan B Roberts, Luis B Sardinha, Analiza M Silva, Eric Stice, Samuel S Urlacher, Edgar A Van Mil, Brian M Wood, Alexia J Murphy-Alford, Cornelia Loechl, Amy H Luke, Jennifer Rood, Dale A Schoeller, Klaas R Westerterp, William W Wong, Herman Pontzer, John R Speakman, IAEA DLW Database Consortium

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Lower ambient temperature (T a) requires greater energy expenditure to sustain body temperature. However, effects of T a on human energetics may be buffered by environmental modification and behavioral compensation. We used the IAEA DLW database for adults in the USA (n = 3213) to determine the effect of T a (-10 to +30°C) on TEE, basal (BEE) and activity energy expenditure (AEE) and physical activity level (PAL). There were no significant relationships (p > 0.05) between maximum, minimum and average T a and TEE, BEE, AEE and PAL. After adjustment for fat-free mass, fat mass and age, statistically significant (p < 0.01) relationships between TEE, BEE and T a emerged in females but the effect sizes were not biologically meaningful. Temperatures inside buildings are regulated at 18-25°C independent of latitude. Hence, adults in the US modify their environments to keep TEE constant across a wide range of external ambient temperatures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104682
Number of pages14
Issue number8
Early online date16 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note


The DLW database, which can be found at, is hosted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and generously supported by Taiyo Nippon Sanso and SERCON . We are grateful to the IAEA and these companies for their support. XYZ was supported by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (grant CAS 153E11KYSB20190045 to J.R.S.), and the database was also supported by the US National Science Foundation (grant BCS-1824466 to H.P.). The funders played no role in the content of this manuscript.

Data Availability Statement

Data were extracted from the IAEA Doubly Labelled Water (DLW) Database (Speakman et al., 2019), version 3.4, compiled in April 2021. Data reported in this paper will be shared by the lead contact upon request.


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