Resting energy expenditure is not altered in children and adolescents with obesity. Effect of age and gender and association with serum leptin levels
In children and adolescents, obesity does not seem to depend on a reduction of resting energy expenditure (REE). Moreover, in this young population, the interactions between either age and obesity or between age and gender, or the role of leptin on REE are not clearly understood. To compare the levels of REE in children and adolescents we studied 181 Caucasian individuals (62% girls) classified on the basis of age- and sex-specific body mass index (BMI) percentile as healthy weight (n = 50), with overweight (n = 34), or with obesity (n = 97) and in different age groups: 8-10 (n = 38), 11-13 (n = 50), and 14-17 years (n = 93). REE was measured by indirect calorimetry and body composition by air displacement plethysmography. Statistically significant differences in REE/fat-free mass (FFM) regarding obesity or gender were not observed. Absolute REE increases with age (p < 0.001), but REE/FFM decreases (p < 0.001) and there is an interaction between gender and age (p < 0.001) on absolute REE showing that the age-related increase is more marked in boys than in girls, in line with a higher FFM. Interestingly, the effect of obesity on absolute REE is not observed in the 8-10 year-old group, in which serum leptin concentrations correlate with the REE/FFM (r = 0.48; p = 0.011). In conclusion, REE/FFM is not affected by obesity or gender, while the effect of age on absolute REE is gender-dependent and leptin may influence the REE/FFM in 8-10 year-olds.