Energy balance, physical activity, and thermogenic effect of feeding in premature infants

Pediatr Res. 1986 Jul;20(7):638-45. doi: 10.1203/00006450-198607000-00012.


In order to assess the contribution of the thermogenic effect of feeding and muscular activity to total energy expenditure, nine premature infants were studied for 2 consecutive days during which time repeated measurements of energy expenditure by indirect calorimetry were performed throughout the day, combined with a visual activity score based on body movement. The infants were growing at 16.6 +/- 4.0 g/kg/day (mean +/- SD) and received 110 +/- 8 kcal/kg/day metabolizable energy (milk formula) and 522 +/- 40 mgN/kg/day. Their total energy expenditure was 68 +/- 4 kcal/kg/day indicating that 41 +/- 7 kcal/kg/day was retained for growth. Based on the combination of energy + N balances it was estimated that 80% of the weight gain was fat-free tissue and 20% was fat tissue. The rate of energy expenditure measured minute-by-minute was significantly and linearly correlated with the activity score in both the premeal (r = 0.75;p less than 0.001) and the postmeal periods (r = 0.74; p less than 0.001) with no difference in the regression slope, but with a significant difference in intercept. In preset feeding schedules the latter allowed an estimation of the thermogenic effect without the confounding effect of activity. This was found to be 3.1 +/- 1.8% when expressed as a percentage of metabolizable energy intake. However when the "classical" approach was used as a comparison (integration of extra energy expenditure induced by the meal), the thermogenic effect was found to be greater, i.e. 9.5 +/- 3.8% of the meal's metabolizable energy, due to the superimposed effect of physical activity in the postprandial state.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight
  • Calorimetry
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Mathematics
  • Movement
  • Nitrogen / metabolism
  • Physical Exertion*


  • Nitrogen