Activity Energy Expenditure in Youth: Sex, Age, and Body Size Patterns

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health


The assessment of physical activity (PA) and energy expenditure (EE) in youth is complicated by inherent variability in growth and maturation during childhood and adolescence. This study provides descriptive summaries of the EE of a diverse range of activities in children ages 7 to 13.


A sample of 105 7- to 13-year-old children (boys: 57%, girls: 43%, and Age: 9.9 ± 1.9) performed a series of 12 activities from a pool of 24 activities while being monitored with an indirect calorimetry system.


Across physical activities, averages of VO2 ml·kg·min-1, VO2 L·min-1, EE, and METs ranged from 3.3 to 53.7 ml·kg·min-1, from 0.15 to 3.2 L·min-1, from 0.7 to 15.9 kcal·min-1, 1.5 MET to 7.8 MET, respectively.


The energy costs of the activities varied by age, sex, and BMI status reinforcing the need to consider adjustments when examining the relative intensity of PA in youth.

Lee ( is with the Dept of School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, University of Nebraska at Omaha. Saint-Maurice is with the Dept of Kinesiology, Iowa State University, Kim is with the MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine. Gaesser is with the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Arizona State University. Welk is the Dept of Kinesiology, Iowa State University.