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Seasonal variation in body mass, body composition and activity-induced energy expenditure: a long-term study

Klaas R Westerterp
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2019 February 20

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Seasonal variation in body mass is a model for the study of body mass regulation. Here a long-term study is presented on body mass, body composition, and activity-induced energy expenditure in a subject with a large seasonal variation in body mass of about 3.0 kg.

SUBJECT/METHODS: Body mass was assessed daily over >20 consecutive years. Daily assessment of activity-induced energy expenditure was performed over the last 10 years. Body composition was assessed monthly for 1 year in the middle and at the end of the observation interval. Additionally, data were compared with data on body composition, resting energy expenditure, and total daily energy expenditure of the same subject as a participant in published studies.

RESULTS: Body mass showed a pronounced seasonal variation, associated with a synchronous variation in physical activity. Body mass peaked in the cold winter months when physical activity reached the lowest annual value and decreased to the lowest value in mid-summer when daily physical activity peaked. The seasonal variation in body mass consisted mainly of body fat. Longitudinally, over the past 8 years of the observation interval, average fat-free mass showed a decrease of 1.0 kg and fat mass increased 0.8 kg.

CONCLUSIONS: In a subject with a pronounced seasonal variation in physical activity, activity-induced variation in energy requirement was covered by an annual variation in body mass, mainly as fat. Maintenance of activity-induced energy expenditure did not protect against loss of fat-free body mass with advancing age.


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