A meticulous study titled “Basal metabolic rate using indirect calorimetry among individuals living with overweight or obesity: The accuracy of predictive equations for basal metabolic rate” was recently published in the Clinical Nutrition ESPEN journal, shedding light on the critical role of measuring basal metabolic rate (BMR) in weight management programs and the evaluation of predictive equations against the gold standard of indirect calorimetry (IC) in individuals with excessive body weight. This article will discuss the crucial findings and implications for both healthcare practitioners and individuals seeking weight management options.

The Research Study

Conducted as a cross-sectional study at the outpatient obesity clinic of Antwerp University Hospital, Belgium, this research encompassed 731 subjects living with overweight or obesity. The study aimed to unravel the accuracy and biases of fourteen commonly used predictive equations for BMR when juxtaposed with IC measurements. Remarkably, the research delineated that standards like the Henry and Mifflin St. Jeor equations emerged with the highest accuracy and lowest bias in estimating BMR for a predominantly female, Caucasian cohort grappling with overweight or obesity issues.

Demographics and Prevalence of Over- or Underestimation

Diving into the demographics, the average age of the study population was 43 years, with a mean Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35.6 kg/m². Overestimation and underestimation were categorized as BMR values greater or lesser, respectively, than 10% of the BMR measured through IC. Interestingly, the study surfaced critical clinical variances in subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue, as well as the presence of metabolic syndrome among individuals whose BMR was either overestimated or underestimated by predictive equations.

The Importance of Accurate BMR Assessment

BMR represents the number of calories required by the body to maintain basic physiological functions at rest. An accurate assessment is elemental for framing effectual weight reduction strategies, enabling individuals to comprehend their caloric necessities for maintaining, losing, or gaining weight. Indirect calorimetry stands as the paramount method for determining BMR but owing to its cost and resource-intensive nature, predictive equations typically serve as proxies. This pivotal study illuminated the discrepancies present when such equations are used, advocating for a need to align them closely with calorimetry results to benefit weight management endeavors.

The Role of Indirect Calorimetry

IC, the gold standard in BMR measurement, employs the analysis of an individual’s oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production to deduce energy expenditure. Although unrivaled for its preciseness, IC is seldom accessible to the average weight loss participant due to its costliness and operational complexity. This conundrum poses a significant obstacle in the quest to personalize diet and exercise plans based on an individual’s unique metabolic needs.

Comparative Analysis of Predictive Equations

In the study, the predictive equations were held to the scrutiny of IC measurements. It was discovered that most equations tend to deviate from the IC standard either by overestimating or underestimating the BMR. Distinct differences were evident among individuals whose BMR was inaccurately estimated, particularly concerning their metabolic health status and adipose tissue distribution.

Clinical Implications

For healthcare providers, the study’s outcomes accentuate the significance of cautiously selecting a predictive equation that echoes the demography of the patient, preserving a cognizance of potential biases. This is consequential in the customization of dietary prescriptions and ensuring patients undertake realistic and sustainable caloric constraints in their weight management pursuits.

Further Research and Developments

The research holds poignancy as it propels further inquiries. There’s an exigent demand for refining predictive equations or devising new ones that encapsulate a broader ethnic and physiologic diversity, thus amplifying their reliability across different population subsets. Additionally, advancements in portable calorimetry devices could democratize the use of IC in regular clinical practices and weight management programs.


This study significantly contributes to the nuanced understanding of BMR estimation in overweight and obese individuals. It underscores the paramountcy of precision in metabolic evaluations and the potential of IC to revolutionize weight loss treatments by tailoring strategies attuned to the individual’s metabolic idiosyncrasies. As the clamor intensifies for more individualized and evidenced-based approaches in combating obesity, this research paves the way for enhanced decision-making grounded in metabolic measurements.


1. Van Dessel, K., Verrijken, A., De Block, C., Verhaegen, A., Peiffer, F., Van Gaal, L., De Wachter, C., & Dirinck, E. (2024). Basal metabolic rate using indirect calorimetry among individuals living with overweight or obesity: The accuracy of predictive equations for basal metabolic rate. Clinical Nutrition ESPEN, 59, 422-435. doi:10.1016/j.clnesp.2023.12.024.
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DOI: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2023.12.024


1. Basal Metabolic Rate Estimation
2. Indirect Calorimetry Overweight Obesity
3. BMR Predictive Equations Accuracy
4. Weight Management Personalized Nutrition
5. Metabolic Health Weight Loss Programs