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What is the effect of diet and/or exercise interventions on behavioural compensation in non-exercise physical activity and related energy expenditure of free-living adults? A systematic review

  • Analiza M. Silva (a1), Pedro B. Júdice (a1), Eliana V. Carraça (a1), Neil King (a2), Pedro J. Teixeira (a1) and Luís B. Sardinha (a1)...

Non-exercise physical activity (NEPA) and/or non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) reductions may occur from diet and/or exercise-induced negative energy balance interventions, resulting in less-than-expected weight loss. This systematic review describes the effects of prescribed diet and/or physical activity (PA)/exercise on NEPA and/or NEAT in adults. Studies were identified from PubMed, web-of-knowledge, Embase, SPORTDiscus, ERIC and PsycINFO searches up to 1 March 2017. Eligibility criteria included randomised controlled trials (RCT), randomised trials (RT) and non-randomised trials (NRT); objective measures of PA and energy expenditure; data on NEPA, NEAT and spontaneous PA; ≥10 healthy male/female aged>18 years; and ≥7 d length. The trial is registered at PROSPERO-2017-CRD42017052635. In all, thirty-six articles (RCT-10, RT-9, NRT-17) with a total of seventy intervention arms (diet, exercise, combined diet/exercise), with a total of 1561 participants, were included. Compensation was observed in twenty-six out of seventy intervention arms (fifteen studies out of thirty-six reporting declines in NEAT (eight), NEPA (four) or both (three)) representing 63, 27 and 23 % of diet-only, combined diet/exercise, and exercise-only intervention arms, respectively. Weight loss observed in participants who decreased NEAT was double the weight loss found in those who did not compensate, suggesting that the energy imbalance degree may lead to energy conservation. Although these findings do not support the hypothesis that prescribed diet and/or exercise results in decreased NEAT and NEPA in healthy adults, the underpowered trial design and the lack of state-of-the-art methods may limit these conclusions. Future studies should explore the impact of weight-loss magnitude, energetic restriction degree, exercise dose and participant characteristics on NEAT and/or NEPA.

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* Corresponding author: A. M. Silva, email
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