Current approaches to measuring total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) in free-living individuals are limited by cost, accuracy, and lack of sensitivity to specific activities. Accurate, reliable, and low cost approaches for measuring TDEE are needed not only to improve clinical outcomes (e.g. weight management), but also to meet public health research objectives. In humans, EE is proportional to total heat loss, which is the sum of conductive, convective, radiant and evaporative heat flows, and measurement of heat loss is the basis of direct calorimetry. However, it has not been possible to accurately measure all forms of heat flux in free-living humans, particularly evaporative heat loss, which can be a substantial component of total heat production. A recently developed heat flow gauge with the capacity to measure all forms of heat flux has shown promise in proof of concept trials and pilot studies, but its accuracy in measuring TDEE has not yet been thoroughly tested. Moreover, how accuracy is affected by factors such as clothing, ambient temperature, and adiposity has not been studied. The objectives of the proposed research are to a) refine the measurement of TDEE based on total heat flux by determining how factors such as clothing, ambient temperature, age, sex, and body composition influence accuracy;b) compare the accuracy of this approach against the criterion measurements of DLW and whole-room indirect calorimetry;and c) compare the accuracy against a similar instrument that measures heat flux, but is not capable of directly measuring the evaporative component. The proposed research is innovative because it will test the accuracy of an approach that is based on a physiological signal (heat production) which is directly proportional to EE. In addition to accurately measuring TDEE, identifying and distinguishing different types of physical activity is an important goal of physical activity related research, but the capacity to do so is limited. Thus, an additional goal of the proposed research is to determine if measurement of changes in heat flux can be used to identify EE in specific bouts of activity and to differentiate between upper body and lower body activity. The proposed studies will permit refinement of a technology that will have major impact in both clinical practice and research. This new approach will potentially provide substantive improvements in the measurement of TDEE in free-living humans and in the assessment of physical activity and the associated energy cost.

Public Health Relevance

Although instruments such as pedometers and heart rate monitors are helpful for those who use exercise to maintain their weight, they do not actually measure calories expended, which is a critical piece of information necessary for sustained weight management. The purpose of this study is to determine the accuracy of a new device that measures calories burned based upon heat produced by the body. Since heat production is directly proportional to calories burned, this device has the potential to accurately measure energy expended in many different settings.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Research Project (R01)
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Kidney, Nutrition, Obesity and Diabetes (KNOD)
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Evans, Mary
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University of Colorado Denver
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Hegde, Nagaraj; Bries, Matthew; Melanson, Edward et al. (2017) One size fits all electronics for insole-based activity monitoring. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc 2017:3564-3567
Stansfield, Ben; Clemes, Stacy; John, Dinesh et al. (2014) 3rd International Conference on Ambulatory Monitoring of Physical Activity and Movement (University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA, June 17-19, 2013). Physiol Meas 35:E2179-81
Lyden, Kate; Swibas, Tracy; Catenacci, Victoria et al. (2014) Estimating energy expenditure using heat flux measured at a single body site. Med Sci Sports Exerc 46:2159-67