Open Access Research

Longitudinal change in energy expenditure and effects on energy requirements of the elderly

Jamie A Cooper1*, Todd M Manini2, Chad M Paton1, Yosuke Yamada34, James E Everhart5, Steve Cummings6, Dawn C Mackey6, Anne B Newman7, Nancy W Glynn8, Fran Tylavsky9, Tamara Harris10, Dale A Schoeller11 and for the Health ABC study

Author affiliations

1 Department of Nutritional Sciences, Hospitality, and Retailing, Texas Tech University, PO Box 41240, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA

2 Department of Aging and Geriatric Research, University of Florida, 2199 Mowry Road, Building 2020, Gainesville, FL, 32611, USA

3 Laboratory of Sports and Health Science, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, 465 Kajii-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, 602-8566, Japan

4 The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) research fellow (SPD), 5-3-1 Kojimachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 102-0083, Japan

5 Epidemiology and Clinical Trials Branch, NIH NIDDK, 2 Democracy Plaza, room 655, Bethesda, MD, 20892-5450, USA

6 San Francisco Coordinating Center, California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, San Francisco, CA, USA

7 Department of Epidemiology, Center for Aging and Population Health, University of Pittsburgh, 130 N. Bellefield Ave, Pittsburgh, PA, 15213, USA

8 Department of Epidemiology, Center for Aging and Population Health, University of Pittsburgh, 130 DeSoto Street, Pittsburgh, PA, 15261, USA

9 Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee-Memphis, 66 North Pauline Street, Suite 633, Memphis, TN, 38105, USA

10 National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Building 31, Room 5C27 31 Center Drive, MSC 2292, Bethesda, MD, 20892, USA

11 Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1415 Linden St., Madison, WI, 53706, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2013, 12:73  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-73

Published: 6 June 2013



Very little is known about the longitudinal changes in energy requirements in late life. The purposes of this study were to: (1) determine the energy requirements in late life and how they changed during a 7 year time-span, (2) determine whether changes in fat free mass (FFM) were related to changes in resting metabolic rate (RMR), and (3) determine the accuracy of predicted total energy expenditure (TEE) to measured TEE.


TEE was assessed via doubly labeled water (DLW) technique in older adults in both 1999 (n = 302; age: 74 ± 2.9 yrs) and again in 2006 (n = 87 age: 82 ± 3.1 yrs). RMR was measured with indirect calorimetry, and body composition was assessed with dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry.


The energy requirements in the 9th decade of life were 2208 ± 376 kcal/d for men and 1814 ± 337 kcal/d for women. This was a significant decrease from the energy requirements in the 8th decade of life in men (2482 ± 476 kcal/d vs. 2208 ± 376 kcal/d) but not in women (1892 ± 271 kcal/d vs. 1814 ± 337 kcal/d). In addition to TEE, RMR, and activity EE (AEE) also decreased in men, but not women, while FFM decreased in both men and women. The changes in FFM were correlated with changes in RMR for men (r = 0.49, p < 0.05) but not for women (r = −0.08, ns). Measured TEE was similar to Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) predicted TEE for men (2208 ± 56 vs. 2305 ± 35 kcal/d) and women (1814 ± 42 vs. 1781 ± 20 kcal/d). However, measured TEE was different than the World Health Organization (WHO) predicted TEE in men (2208 ± 56 vs. 2915 ± 31 kcal/d (p < 0.05)) and women (1814 ± 42 vs. 2315 ± 21 kcal/d (p < 0.05)).


TEE, RMR and AEE decreased in men, but not women, from the 8th to 9th decade of life. The DRI equation to predict TEE was comparable to measured TEE, while the WHO equation over-predicted TEE in our elderly population.

Doubly labeled water; Energy expenditure; Elderly; Energy requirements