Objective: To compare measurements of total energy expenditure in children aged 1.5-4.5 years with current recommendations for energy intake.
Design: Total energy expenditure was measured using the doubly labelled water technique and compared with 1991 UK recommendations for energy intake.
Setting: Community-based study in East Anglia and South East England.
Subjects: Ninety-three children aged 1.5-4.5 years recruited. Results available on 81 children.
Results: Mean values for total energy expenditure for the boys were 359, 341 and 327 kJ/kg in the age groups 1.5-2.5, 2.5-3.5 and 3.5-4.5 years respectively. In the girls, mean values for total energy expenditure were 347, 317 and 310 kJ/kg in the age groups 1.5-2.5, 2.5-3.5 and 3.5-4.5 respectively. These values were approximately 12% and 10% below current recommendations for energy intake in girls and boys respectively.
Conclusion: These data add to the growing literature that indicate that energy expenditure in young children is significantly below previous estimates. Secular changes in habitual levels of physical activity might be responsible for reduced levels of physical activity.