Energetics of Aging and Frailty: The FRADEA Study

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Resting metabolic rate (RMR) and total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) decrease with aging, but it is not known whether frailty modulates this association. We hypothesize that RMR and TDEE values are similar between younger and older nonfrail older adults, whereas they are lower in older prefrail and frail compared with younger adults.


A cross-sectional analysis of the FRADEA study, Albacete (Spain), including 402 participants (213 women) older than 70 years (mean age 76 years; range 70–91), was conducted. Estimated RMR (eRMR), oxygen consumption (VO 2 ), expired volume (Ve), and respiratory frequency (RF) were determined using indirect calorimetry; TDEE was determined with the Calcumed instrument; and fat-free mass was determined by bioimpedanciometry. General linear models were used for analysis.


Mean TDEE was 1,889 ( SD 470) kcal and eRMR was 1,071 ( SD 323) kcal. Both TDEE ( B = −24 kcal/day; 95% confidence interval: −35.4 to −14.2; p < .001) and eRMR ( B = −15.8 kcal/day; 95% confidence interval: −23.1 to −8.5; p < .001) diminished linearly with age, with lower values in frail and prefrail participants. There was a strong trend between frailty and lower eRMR ( F = 2.9; p = .058), with a modifying effect between age and frailty ( F = 3.6; p = .002). eRMR in prefrail and frail participants were on average 160 and 114 kcal/day less than that in the nonfrail participants, respectively, and taken together, 154 kcal/day less ( F = 5.4; p = .020). Frail and prefrail participants also presented lower Ve and VO 2 values that were partially compensated by an RF increase.


Frailty status modulates the energy requirements of aging. Frail and prefrail older adults present lower eRMR than nonfrail adults.

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