The '39 steps': an algorithm for performing statistical analysis of data on energy intake and expenditure

John R Speakman, Quinn Fletcher, Lobke Vaanholt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


The epidemics of obesity and diabetes have aroused great interest in the analysis of energy balance, with the use of organisms ranging from nematode worms to humans. Although generating energy-intake or -expenditure data is relatively straightforward, the most appropriate way to analyse the data has been an issue of contention for many decades. In the last few years, a consensus has been reached regarding the best methods for analysing such data. To facilitate using these best-practice methods, we present here an algorithm that provides a step-by-step guide for analysing energy-intake or -expenditure data. The algorithm can be used to analyse data from either humans or experimental animals, such as small mammals or invertebrates. It can be used in combination with any commercial statistics package; however, to assist with analysis, we have included detailed instructions for performing each step for three popular statistics packages (SPSS, MINITAB and R). We also provide interpretations of the results obtained at each step. We hope that this algorithm will assist in the statistically appropriate analysis of such data, a field in which there has been much confusion and some controversy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-301
Number of pages9
JournalDisease Models & Mechanisms
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License (, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly cited and all further distributions of the work or adaptation are subject to the same Creative Commons License terms.


  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Humans
  • Statistics as Topic


Dive into the research topics of 'The '39 steps': an algorithm for performing statistical analysis of data on energy intake and expenditure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this