Daily Energy Expenditure through the Human Life Course

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Total daily energy expenditure (“total expenditure”, MJ/d) reflects daily energy needs and is a critical variable in human health and physiology, yet it is unclear how daily expenditure changes over the life course. Here, we analyze a large, globally diverse database of total expenditure measured by the doubly labeled water method for males and females aged 8 days to 95 yr. We show that total expenditure is strongly related to fat free mass in a power-law manner and identify four distinct metabolic life stages. Fat free mass-adjusted daily expenditure accelerates rapidly in neonates (0-1yr) to ~46% above adult values at ~1 yr, declines slowly throughout childhood and adolescence (1-20 yr) to adult levels at ~20 yr, remains stable in adulthood (20-60 yr) even during pregnancy, and declines in older adults (60+ yr). These changes in total expenditure shed new light on human development and aging and should help shape nutrition and health strategies across the lifespan.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2021


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