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Assigning Energy Costs to Activities in Children: A Review and Synthesis


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: August 2008 - Volume 40 - Issue 8 - p 1439-1446
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31817279ef
BASIC SCIENCES: Epidemiology

Purpose: Compendia of energy costs are often used to assign energy expenditures (EE) to self-reported and observed activity. As there is a lack of data on the energy cost of children's everyday activities, adult values are often used as surrogates. However, the best way to adjust adult values for use with children remains unclear. Various strategies have been used to estimate rates of EE in children.

Methods: To evaluate these existing methods for assigning EE to children, a literature search reviewed all English-language studies that measured energy costs in healthy 6.0-17.9 yr olds using criterion EE measures. Data were combined using the Monte Carlo simulation procedure, with walking and running forming separate data sets.

Results: The resultant data set (excluding walking and running) contained 5592 data points encompassing 51 activities. Analyses revealed using adults METs, combined with child resting metabolic rates, as the best existing technique to assign EE to children when measured values are not available. Prediction equations for the energy cost of walking and running were calculated using multiple regression.

Conclusion: This study has provided a literature base and analytical support for a compendium of energy costs for use with children with energy costs expressed as METs.

1Centre for the Analysis of Educational Futures, School of Education, Flinders University; Adelaide, AUSTRALIA; and 2Sansom Institute, School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, AUSTRALIA

Address for correspondence: Kate Ridley, Ph.D., School of Education, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide SA 5001, Australia; E-mail:

Submitted for publication October 2007.

Accepted for publication March 2008.

©2008The American College of Sports Medicine