Descriptive epidemiology of energy expenditure in the UK: findings from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey 2008-15.
International Journal of Epidemiology 2020 ; 49: 1007-1021.
DOI : 10.1093/ije/dyaa005
PubMed ID : 32191299
PMCID : PMC7394951
Little is known about population levels of energy expenditure, as national surveillance systems typically employ only crude measures. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) in the UK measured energy expenditure in a 10% subsample by gold-standard doubly labelled water (DLW).
DLW-subsample participants from the NDNS (383 males, 387 females) aged 4-91 years were recruited between 2008 and 2015 (rolling programme). Height and weight were measured and body-fat percentage estimated by deuterium dilution.
Absolute total energy expenditure (TEE) increased steadily throughout childhood, ranging from 6.2 and 7.2 MJ/day in 4- to 7-year-olds to 9.7 and 11.7 MJ/day for 14- to 16-year-old girls and boys, respectively. TEE peaked in 17- to 27-year-old women (10.7 MJ/day) and 28- to 43-year-old men (14.4 MJ/day), before decreasing gradually in old age. Physical-activity energy expenditure (PAEE) declined steadily with age from childhood (87 kJ/day/kg in 4- to 7-year-olds) through to old age (38 kJ/day/kg in 71- to 91-year-olds). No differences were observed by time, region and macronutrient composition. Body-fat percentage was strongly inversely associated with PAEE throughout life, irrespective of expressing PAEE relative to body mass or fat-free mass. Compared with females with <30% body fat, females with >40% recorded 29 kJ/day/kg body mass and 18 kJ/day/kg fat-free mass less PAEE in analyses adjusted for age, geographical region and time of assessment. Similarly, compared with males with <25% body fat, males with >35% recorded 26 kJ/day/kg body mass and 10 kJ/day/kg fat-free mass less PAEE.
This first nationally representative study reports levels of human-energy expenditure as measured by gold-standard methodology; values may serve as a reference for other population studies. Age, sex and body composition are the main determinants of energy expenditure. Key Messages This is the first nationally representative study of human energy expenditure, covering the UK in the period 2008-2015. Total energy expenditure (MJ/day) increases steadily with age throughout childhood and adolescence, peaks in the 3rd decade of life in women and 4th decade of life in men, before decreasing gradually in old age. Physical activity energy expenditure (kJ/day/kg or kJ/day/kg fat-free mass) declines steadily with age from childhood to old age, more steeply so in males. Body-fat percentage is strongly inversely associated with physical activity energy expenditure. We found little evidence that energy expenditure varied by geographical region, over time, or by dietary macronutrient composition.