Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)

James A. Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

77 Scopus citations

Abstract

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work, undertaking agricultural tasks and fidgeting. Even trivial physical activities increase metabolic rate substantially and it is the cumulative impact of a multitude of exothermic actions that culminate in an individual's daily NEAT. It is, therefore, not surprising that NEAT explains a vast majority of an individual's non-resting energy needs. Epidemiological studies highlight the importance of culture in promoting and quashing NEAT. Agricultural and manual workers have high NEAT, whereas wealth and industrialization appear to decrease NEAT. Physiological studies demonstrate, intriguingly, that NEAT is modulated with changes in energy balance; NEAT increases with overfeeding and decreases with underfeeding. Thus, NEAT could be a critical component in how we maintain our body weight and/or develop obesity or lose weight. The mechanism that regulates NEAT is unknown. However, hypothalamic factors have been identified that specifically and directly increase NEAT in animals. By understanding how NEAT is regulated we may come to appreciate that spontaneous physical activity is not spontaneous at all but carefully programmed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)679-702
Number of pages24
JournalBest Practice and Research: Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Volume16
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

Keywords

  • Energy expenditure
  • Malnutrition
  • Obesity
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology

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