Analysis of predictive equations for estimating resting energy expenditure in a large cohort of morbidly obese patients

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The treatment of obesity requires creating an energy deficit through caloric restriction and physical activity. Energy needs are estimated assessing the resting energy expenditure (REE) that in the clinical practice is estimated using predictive equations. In the present cross sectional study, we compared, in a large cohort of morbidly obese patients, the accuracy of REE predictive equations recommended by current obesity guidelines [Harris-Benedict, WHO/FAO/ONU and Mifflin-St Jeor (MJ)] and/or developed for obese patients (Muller, Muller BC, Lazzer, Lazzer BC), focusing on the effect of comorbidities on the accuracy of the equations. Data on REE measured by indirect calorimetry and body composition were collected in 4,247 obese patients (69% women, mean age 48 ± 19 years, mean BMI 44 ± 7 Kg/m2) admitted to the Istituto Auxologico Italiano from 1999 to 2014. The performance of the equations was assessed in the whole cohort, in 4 groups with 0, 1, 2, or =≥3 comorbidities and in a subgroup of 1,598 patients with 1 comorbidity (47.1% hypertension, 16.7% psychiatric disorders, 13.3% binge eating disorders, 6.1% endocrine disorders, 6.4% type 2 diabetes, 3.5% sleep apnoea, 3.1% dyslipidemia, 2.5% coronary disease). In the whole cohort of obese patients, as well as in each stratum of comorbidity number, the MJ equation had the highest performance for agreement measures and bias. The MJ equation had the best performance in obese patients with ≥3 comorbidities (accuracy of 61.1%, bias of -89.87) and in patients with type 2 diabetes and sleep apnoea (accuracy/bias 69%/-19.17 and 66%/-21.67 respectively), who also have the highest levels of measured REE. In conclusion, MJ equation should be preferred to other equations to estimate the energy needs of Caucasian morbidly obese patients when measurement of the REE cannot be performed. As even MJ equation does not precisely predict REE, it should be better to plan the diet intervention by measuring rather than estimating REE. Future studies focusing on the clinical differences that determine the high inter-individual variability of the precision of the REE predictive equations (e.g., on the organ-tissue metabolic rate), could help to develop predictive equations with a better performance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number367
JournalFrontiers in Endocrinology
Issue numberJUL
Publication statusPublished - Jul 25 2018


  • Comorbidities
  • Indirect calorimetry
  • Obesity
  • REE predictive equations
  • Resting energy expenditure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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