Changes in resting and walking energy expenditure and walking speed during pregnancy in obese women

Byrne, Nuala M., Groves, Ainsley M., McIntyre, H. David, & Callaway, Leonie (2011) Changes in resting and walking energy expenditure and walking speed during pregnancy in obese women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 94(3), pp. 819-830.

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Energy conserving processes reported in undernourished women during pregnancy are a recognised strategy to provide energy required to support fetal development. Women who are obese before conceiving arguably have sufficient fat stores to support the energy demands of pregnancy without the need to provoke energy conserving mechanisms.


We tested the hypothesis that obese women would demonstrate behavioural adaptation (i.e. decrease in self-selected walking (SSW) speed) but not metabolic compensation (i.e. decrease in resting metabolic rate (RMR) or metabolic cost of walking) during gestation.


RMR, SSW speed, metabolic cost of walking, and anthropometry were measured in 23 women (BMI: 33.6 ± 2.5 kg/m2; 31 ± 4 years) at approximately weeks 15 (wk 15) and 30 (wk 30) of gestation. RMR was also measured in two cohorts of non-pregnant controls matched for age, weight and height of the pregnant cohort at wk 15 (N=23) and wk 30 (N=23).


GWG varied widely (11.3 ± 5.4 kg) and 52% of women gained more weight than is recommended. RMR increased significantly by an average 177 ± 176 kcal/d (11±12%; P<0.0001); however the within-group variability was large. Both the metabolic cost of walking and SSW speed decreased significantly (P<0.01). While RMR increased in >80% of the cohort, the net oxygen cost of walking decreased in the same proportion of women.


While the increase in RMR was greater than was explained by weight gain, there was evidence of both behavioural and biological compensation in the metabolic cost of walking in obese women during gestation.

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10 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 41950
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: Articles free to read on journal website after 12 months
Additional URLs:
Keywords: obesity, pregnancy, resting metabolic rate, walking economy, gestational weight gain
DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.110.009399
ISSN: 0002-9165
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > HUMAN MOVEMENT AND SPORTS SCIENCE (110600) > Exercise Physiology (110602)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 American Society for Nutrition
Deposited On: 09 Jun 2011 22:17
Last Modified: 15 Jul 2017 19:38

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