Resting Energy Expenditure of Black Overweight Women in South Africa Is Lower than of White Women

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Abstract

Background:

Overweight affects 65% of black South African women. Effective weight management requires accurate measurement or estimation of energy expenditure.

Aims:

The study aimed to determine, among overweight women, whether measured resting energy expenditure (REE) differs between black and white participants, and the performance of REE estimation equations.

Methods:

The REE of 44 black (age 39.6 ± 9.7 years, body mass index (BMI) 35.1 ± 6.2 kg/m2) and 41 white (age 38.0 ± 11.6 years, BMI 33.9 ± 7.6 kg/m2) women was measured with indirect calorimetry and estimated with equations. Body composition was assessed with multi-frequency bioelectrical impedance analysis. Differences in REE were determined with t tests (Welch), and included adjustment for fat free mass (FFM) and BMI, and for FFM index (FFMI).

Results:

Measured REE was 585 kJ/day (95% CI 264-905; p = 0.0005) and 861 kJ/day (95% CI 499-1,221; p < 0.0001) lower in black than in white women when adjusted for FFM and BMI, and FFMI, respectively. Out of 14 equations, 13 underestimated REE (error range 2,261 ± 727 kJ/day (Bernstein equation, white women) to 8 ± 782 kJ/day (BMI equation, black women)).

Conclusions:

Black overweight women have significantly lower REE than their white counterparts. No tested estimation equation provided satisfactory results across race/ethnicity. REE measurements or development of overweight- or race/ethnicity-specific estimation equations are recommended.

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