Comparison of energy expenditure estimates from doubly labeled water, a physical activity questionnaire, and physical activity records

Joan M. Conway, James L. Seale, David R. Jacobs, Melinda L. Irwin, Barbara E. Ainsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

115 Scopus citations


Background: Various methods are used by epidemiologists to estimate the energy cost of physical activity; these include physical activity records and recalls. However, there is limited validation of these methods against the doubly labeled water technique for determining energy expenditure (EE). Objective: We compared EE as estimated by indirect methods (physical activity records and recall questionnaires) used in epidemiologic studies with EE obtained from doubly labeled water (EE DLW) in free-living men. Design: We determined EE DLW, energy intake at weight maintenance, and EE from 7-d physical activity records (EE Record) and a 7-d physical activity recall questionnaire (EE Recall) in 24 men aged 41 ± 2.0 y (̄ ± SEM) with a body mass index (in kg/m 2) of 25.1 ± 0.5. Results: There was excellent agreement between EE DLW (13.27 ± 0.35 MJ/d) and energy intake (13.19 ± 0.36 MJ/d), with a difference of 0.5 ± 1.0% (̄ ± SE). The indirect measures of physical activity and EE were 14.17 ± 0.37 MJ/d for EE Record (difference from EE DLW: 7.9 ± 3.2%) and 17.40 ± 1.45 MJ/d for EE Recall (difference from EE DLW: 30.6 ± 9.9%). Conclusions: Seven-day physical activity records provide an acceptable estimate of EE in free-living adults compared with EE DLW, but 7-d physical activity recalls have limited application to estimate daily EE. For optimal validity, the 7-d physical activity records require good subject compliance and the provision of careful instructions for their use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)519-525
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 7 2002



  • Basal metabolic rate
  • Doubly labeled water
  • Energy intake
  • Exercise
  • Men
  • Physical activity recall
  • Physical activity records
  • Stanford 7-d physical activity questionnaire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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