Energy compensation and adiposity in humans

Vincent Careau*, Lewis G. Halsey*, Herman Pontzer*, Philip N. Ainslie, Lene F. Andersen, Liam J. Anderson, Lenore Arab, Issad Baddou, Kweku Bedu-Addo, Ellen E. Blaak, Stephane Blanc, Alberto G. Bonomi, Carlijn V.C. Bouten, Maciej S. Buchowski, Nancy F. Butte, Stefan G.J.A. Camps, Graeme L. Close, Jamie A. Cooper, Sai Krupa Das, Richard CooperLara R. Dugas, Simon D. Eaton, Ulf Ekelund, Sonja Entringer, Terrence Forrester, Barry W. Fudge, Annelies H. Goris, Michael Gurven, Catherine Hambly, Asmaa El Hamdouchi, Marije B. Hoos, Sumei Hu, Noorjehan Joonas, Annemiek M. Joosen, Peter Katzmarzyk, Kitty P. Kempen, Misaka Kimura, William E. Kraus, Robert F. Kushner, Estelle V. Lambert, William R. Leonard, Nader Lessan, Corby K. Martin, Anine C. Medin, Erwin P. Meijer, James C. Morehen, James P. Morton, Marian L. Neuhouser, Theresa A. Nicklas, Robert M. Ojiambo, Kirsi H. Pietiläinen, Yannis P. Pitsiladis, Jacob Plange-Rhule, Guy Plasqui, Ross L. Prentice, Roberto A. Rabinovich, Susan B. Racette, David A. Raichlen, Eric Ravussin, John J. Reilly, Rebecca M. Reynolds, Susan B. Roberts, Albertine J. Schuit, Anders M. Sjödin, Eric Stice, Samuel S. Urlacher, Giulio Valenti, Ludo M. Van Etten, Edgar A. Van Mil, Jonathan C.K. Wells, George Wilson, Brian M. Wood, Jack Yanovski, Tsukasa Yoshida, Xueying Zhang, Alexia J. Murphy-Alford, Cornelia U. Loechl, Amy H. Luke*, Jennifer Rood*, Hiroyuki Sagayama*, Dale A. Schoeller*, William W. Wong*, Yosuke Yamada*, John R. Speakman*, The IAEA DLW Database Group

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    70 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Understanding the impacts of activity on energy balance is crucial. Increasing levels of activity may bring diminishing returns in energy expenditure because of compensatory responses in non-activity energy expenditures.1–3 This suggestion has profound implications for both the evolution of metabolism and human health. It implies that a long-term increase in activity does not directly translate into an increase in total energy expenditure (TEE) because other components of TEE may decrease in response—energy compensation. We used the largest dataset compiled on adult TEE and basal energy expenditure (BEE) (n = 1,754) of people living normal lives to find that energy compensation by a typical human averages 28% due to reduced BEE; this suggests that only 72% of the extra calories we burn from additional activity translates into extra calories burned that day. Moreover, the degree of energy compensation varied considerably between people of different body compositions. This association between compensation and adiposity could be due to among-individual differences in compensation: people who compensate more may be more likely to accumulate body fat. Alternatively, the process might occur within individuals: as we get fatter, our body might compensate more strongly for the calories burned during activity, making losing fat progressively more difficult. Determining the causality of the relationship between energy compensation and adiposity will be key to improving public health strategies regarding obesity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4659-4666.e2
    Number of pages11
    JournalCurrent Biology
    Volume31
    Issue number20
    Early online date27 Aug 2021
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2021

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
    • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

    User-Defined Keywords

    • activity
    • basal metabolic rate
    • daily energy expenditure
    • energy management
    • models
    • exercise
    • Homo sapiens
    • trade-offs
    • weight loss
    • energy compensation

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