Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Need to Measure Energy Expenditure

Many people believe that in order to manage a process, you must be able to measure elements of the process. And it probably follows that the better you are able to measure process elements, the better you can manage the elements. Well, knowing how many calories are burned. or the energy expenditure (EE) associated with a given physical activity, is important in managing weight.

Accurate devices for measuring energy expenditure are important to both those wanting to manage their weight and those wanting to help others manage their weight. Two devices that measure energy expenditure were compared in a recent study by a group out of Providence, Road Island. The two devices studied were the Stayhealthy RT3 triaxial accelerometer (RT3) and the Sensewear Pro(2) Armband (SWA).

The RT3 is commercially available through Monrovia, California based Stayhealthy, Inc. The RT3 is intended to be used by researchers to collect comprehensive activity measurement data. “The RT3 is the size of a pager and is worn on the waist. It continuously tracks activity through the use of … accelerometer technology that measures motion in three dimensions and provides tri-axial vector data in activity units, metabolic equivalent units (METs) or kilocalories.” The RT3 can be connected to a computer so that measurements taken by the unit can be analyzed.

The SWA is commercially available through Pittsburg, PA BodyMedia, Inc. As indicated, the SWA is worn on the arm. The device uses an accelerometer to measure such as motion, steps and skin temperature.

Although the SWA is reported to be accurate when performing measurements for adult activities, the unit has been found to be less accurate when used to measure children activities. However, a better algorithm is reportedly more accurate.

The Providence study compared the RT3 and the SWA by looking at group and individual results. The researchers concluded that “At the group level, the RT3 and SWA provide similar estimates of PA and sedentary behaviors; however, concordance between monitors may be compromised at the individual level.”

As in other research, the above study indicates that there may be discrepancies in data collected by energy expenditure devices. However, because measuring physical activity for energy expenditure is so important in treating obesity, bariatric service providers should use energy measuring device where appropriate.

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