Greater male variability in daily energy expenditure develops through puberty

Lewis G. Halsey*, Vincent Careau, Philip N. Ainslie, Heliodoro Alemán-Mateo, Lene F. Andersen, Liam J. Anderson, Leonore Arab, Issad Baddou, Linda Bandini, Kweku Bedu-Addo, Ellen E. Blaak, Stephane Blanc, Alberto G. Bonomi, Carlijn V.C. Bouten, Pascal Bovet, Soren Brage, Maciej S. Buchowski, Nancy Butte, Stephan G. Camps, Regian CasperGraeme L. Close, Lisa H. Colbert, Jamie A. Cooper, Richard Cooper, Prasangi Dabare, Sai Krupa Das, Peter S.W. Davies, Sanjoy Deb, Christine Delisle Nyström, William Dietz, Lara R. Dugas, Simon Eaton, Ulf Ekelund, Asmaa El Hamdouchi, Sonja Entringer, Terrence Forrester, Barry W. Fudge, Melanie Gillingham, Annelies H. Goris, Michael Gurven, Hinke Haisma, Catherine Hambly, Daniel Hoffman, Marije B. Hoos, Sumei Hu, Noorjehan Joonas, Annemiek Joosen, Peter Katzmarzyk, Kitty P. Kempen, Misaka Kimura, William E. Kraus, Wantanee Kriengsinyos, Rebecca Kuriyan, Robert F. Kushner, Estelle V. Lambert, Pulani Lanerolle, Christel L. Larsson, Nader Lessan, Marie Löf, Corby Martin, Eric Matsiko, Gerwin A. Meijer, James C. Morehen, James P. Morton, Aviva Must, Marian Neuheuser, Theresa A. Nicklas, Robert M. Ojiambo, Kirsi H. Pietilainen, Yannis P. Pitsiladis, Jacob Plange-Rhule, Guy Plasqui, Ross L. Prentice, Roberto Rabinovich, Susan B. Racette, David A. Raichen, Eric Ravussin, Leanne Redman, John J. Reilly, Rebecca Reynolds, Susan Roberts, Jennifer C. Rood, Dulani Samaranayake, Luís B. Sardinha, Albertine J. Scuitt, Analiza M. Silva, Srishti Sinha, Anders M. Sjödin, Eric Stice, Albert Stunkard, Samuel S. Urlacher, Mauro Eduardo Valencia, Giulio Valenti, Ludo M. Van Etten, Edgar A. Van Mil, Jeanine A. Verbunt, Jonathan C.K. Wells, George Wilson, Brian Wood, Tsukasa Yoshida, Xueying Zhang, Alexia Murphy-Alford, Cornelia Loechl, Amy Luke, Herman Pontzer, Jennifer Rood, Hiroyuki Sagayama, Klaas R. Westerterp, William W. Wong, Yosuke Yamada, John R. Speakman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is considerably greater variation in metabolic rates between men than between women, in terms of basal, activity and total (daily) energy expenditure (EE). One possible explanation is that EE is associated with male sexual characteristics (which are known to vary more than other traits) such as musculature and athletic capacity. Such traits might be predicted to be most prominent during periods of adolescence and young adulthood, when sexual behaviour develops and peaks. We tested this hypothesis on a large dataset by comparing the amount of male variation and female variation in total EE, activity EE and basal EE, at different life stages, along with several morphological traits: height, fat free mass and fat mass. Total EE, and to some degree also activity EE, exhibit considerable greater male variation (GMV) in young adults, and then a decreasing GMV in progressively older individuals. Arguably, basal EE, and also morphometrics, do not exhibit this pattern. These findings suggest that single male sexual characteristics may not exhibit peak GMV in young adulthood, however total and perhaps also activity EE, associated with many morphological and physiological traits combined, do exhibit GMV most prominently during the reproductive life stages.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20230152
JournalBiology letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - 20 Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

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  • age
  • height
  • inter-individual variation
  • morphometry
  • weight


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