Energy gap in the aetiology of body weight gain and obesity: a challenging concept with a complex evaluation and pitfalls

Schutz, Yves, Byrne, Nuala M., Dulloo, Abdul and Hills, Andrew P. (2014) Energy gap in the aetiology of body weight gain and obesity: a challenging concept with a complex evaluation and pitfalls. Obesity Facts, 7 1: 15-25. doi:10.1159/000357846


Author Schutz, Yves
Byrne, Nuala M.
Dulloo, Abdul
Hills, Andrew P.
Title Energy gap in the aetiology of body weight gain and obesity: a challenging concept with a complex evaluation and pitfalls
Journal name Obesity Facts   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1662-4033
1662-4025
Publication date 2014-02
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1159/000357846
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 7
Issue 1
Start page 15
End page 25
Total pages 11
Place of publication Basel, Switzerland
Publisher S. Karger AG
Language eng
Abstract The concept of energy gap(s) is useful for understanding the consequence of a small daily, weekly, or monthly positive energy balance and the inconspicuous shift in weight gain ultimately leading to overweight and obesity. Energy gap is a dynamic concept: an initial positive energy gap incurred via an increase in energy intake (or a decrease in physical activity) is not constant, may fade out with time if the initial conditions are maintained, and depends on the 'efficiency' with which the readjustment of the energy imbalance gap occurs with time. The metabolic response to an energy imbalance gap and the magnitude of the energy gap(s) can be estimated by at least two methods, i.e. i) assessment by longitudinal overfeeding studies, imposing (by design) an initial positive energy imbalance gap; ii) retrospective assessment based on epidemiological surveys, whereby the accumulated endogenous energy storage per unit of time is calculated from the change in body weight and body composition. In order to illustrate the difficulty of accurately assessing an energy gap we have used, as an illustrative example, a recent epidemiological study which tracked changes in total energy intake (estimated by gross food availability) and body weight over 3 decades in the US, combined with total energy expenditure prediction from body weight using doubly labelled water data. At the population level, the study attempted to assess the cause of the energy gap purported to be entirely due to increased food intake. Based on an estimate of change in energy intake judged to be more reliable (i.e. in the same study population) and together with calculations of simple energetic indices, our analysis suggests that conclusions about the fundamental causes of obesity development in a population (excess intake vs. low physical activity or both) is clouded by a high level of uncertainty.
Keyword Energy gap
Energy imbalance
Food availability
Food balance sheets
Total energy expenditure
Doubly labelled water
Physical activity
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collection: Mater Research Institute-UQ (MRI-UQ)
 
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