Daily energy expenditure through the human life course

IAEA DLW Database Consortium, Amy H. Luke* (Corresponding Author), Jennifer Rood* (Corresponding Author), Dale A Schoeller* (Corresponding Author), Klaas R. Westerterp* (Corresponding Author), William W Wong* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Citations (Scopus)


Total daily energy expenditure (“total expenditure”) reflects daily energy needs and is a critical variable in human health and physiology, but its trajectory over the life course is poorly studied. We analyzed a large, diverse database of total expenditure measured by the doubly labeled water method for males and females aged 8 days to 95 years. Total expenditure increased with fat-free mass in a power-law manner, with four distinct life stages. Fat-free mass-adjusted expenditure accelerates rapidly in neonates to ~50% above adult values at ~1 year; declines slowly to adult levels by ~20 years; remains stable in adulthood (20 to 60 years), even during pregnancy; then declines in older adults. These changes shed light on human development and aging and should help shape nutrition and health strategies across the life span.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)808-812
Number of pages5
Issue number6556
Early online date13 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2021


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