Objective: To measure the contribution of substrate oxidation to energy expenditure during cycling at different workloads and to identify the exercise intensity that elicits the maximum fat oxidation rate in groups of severely obese or nonobese Caucasian adolescents. Design: A total of 30 severely obese subjects (mean body mass index, BMI = 34.7 kg/m2; fat-mass = 39.9%) and 30 nonobese sedentary adolescents (mean BMI = 22.7 kg/m2; fat-mass = 21.8%) aged 14-16 years, participated in this study. Body composition was assessed by bioelectrical impedance. Peak oxygen uptake (V̇O 2peak) and maximal fat oxidation rate were determined with indirect calorimetry by using a graded exercise test on an electromagnetically braked cycle ergometer. Results: Predicted V̇O2max were expressed in absolute (l/min) and relative (ml/kg FFM/min) values, and maximal work rates were not significantly different between obese and nonobese adolescents, but were significantly higher in boys than in girls. No significant differences in fat oxidation rates were found in obese and nonobese sedentary adolescents during the graded exercise test. Maximal fat oxidation was observed at an exercise intensity corresponding to (mean ± SD) 41 ± 3% V̇O2max or 58 ± 3% HRmax. At this exercise intensity, fat oxidation rates were higher in boys than in girls (0.32 ± 0.02 g/min vs. 0.25 ± 0.02 g/min, P <0.001). Conclusions: Severely obese and sedentary nonobese adolescents reached maximal fat oxidation rates at 41% V̇O2max, which corresponds to 58% HRmax. At this exercise intensity, fat oxidation rates were higher in boys than in girls probably due to higher V̇O2max and absolute workload during the exercise steps for boys compared with those for girls.
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