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Resting energy expenditure of morbidly obese patients using indirect calorimetry: a systematic review


Dr. L Isenring, School of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland, Bldg. 26, Rm. 407B, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia. E-mail:


The increasing proportion of acutely ill hospital patient admissions presenting with a morbidly obese body mass index (BMI ≥ 40 kg m−2) as a comorbidity is an emerging clinical concern. Suboptimal food intake and malnutrition is prevalent in the acute care hospital setting. The energy requirements necessary to prevent malnutrition in acutely ill patients with morbid obesity remains unclear. The aim of this systematic review was to identify studies in the literature that have used indirect calorimetry to measure the resting energy expenditure of patients with morbid obesity to establish their minimum energy requirements and the implications for optimal feeding practices in acutely ill hospitalized patients. A total of 20 studies from PubMed, Cochrane Library and Embase met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed. All articles were graded using the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council levels of evidence and given a quality rating using the American Dietetic Association recommendations. Studies were categorized according to the mean BMI of its subjects. The most commonly measured resting energy expenditures for morbidly obese patients are between 2,000 and 3,000 kcal d−1 (8,400–12,600 kJ d−1). Activity and injury factors of acutely ill morbidly obese patients could result in significantly greater energy requirements for this patient group and are unlikely to be met by standard hospital menus. Establishing the minimum energy requirements for this population group will help inform adequate and accurate energy provision in the acute setting. Outcomes of underfeeding and overfeeding in morbidly obese patients warrant further research.