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Energy expenditure of Gambian women during peak agricultural activity measured by the doubly-labelled water method

  • J. Singh (a1), A. M. Prentice (a1), E. Diaz (a1), W.A. Coward (a1), J. Ashford (a1), M. Sawyer (a1) and R. G. Whitehead (a1)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1079/BJN19890033
  • Published online: 01 March 2007
Abstract

The doubly-labelled water (2H218O) method was used to measure total energy expenditure (TEE) in ten non-pregnant, non-lactating (NPNL), six pregnant (P) and fourteen lactating (L) women in a rural Gambian community. Measurements were made on free-living subjects at a period of peak energetic stress when high agricultural work loads coincided with a hungry season to induce moderately severe negative energy balance. TEE averaged 10.42 (SD 2.08) MJ/d, equivalent to 1.95 (SD 0.38) times resting metabolic rate (RMR). The energy cost of physical activity plus thermogenesis, derived as TEE – RMR, averaged 4.94 (SD 1.96) MJ/d. Expressed per kg body-weight (103 kJ/kg per d) this component of expenditure was 2.5 times greater than comparative values from inactive, affluent women studied previously (39 kJ/kg per d). Estimated energy intake (EI) in a subset of the women (n 13) was only 4.80 (SD 1.58) MJ/d, yielding an apparent deficit of 6.08 MJ/d between EI and TEE. Weight changes suggested that endogenous fat oxidation accounted for only about 0.85 MJ/d, leaving an unexplained difference of over 5 MJ/d. Critical analysis of possible errors suggests that the new doubly-labelled water method has provided the most reliable estimates and that the estimates of EI were substantially in error. This finding has important consequences for other food intake studies.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

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A. M. Prentice , W. A. Coward , H. L. Davies , P. R. Murgatroyd , A. E. Black , G. R. Goldberg , J. Ashford & M. Sawyer (1985). Unexpectedly low levels of energy expenditure in healthy women. Lancet i, 14191422.

S. B. Roberts , A. A. Paul , T. J. Cole & R. G. Whitehead (1982). Seasonal changes in activity, birth weight and lactational performance in rural Gambian women. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 76, 668678.

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