Journal article

Metabolic Equivalent in Adolescents, Active Adults and Pregnant Women

Metabolic Equivalent (MET) represents a standard amount of oxygen consumed by the body under resting conditions, and is defined as 3.5 mL O-2/kg x min or similar to 1 kcal/kg x h. It is used to express the energy cost of physical activity in multiples of MET. However, universal application of the 1-MET standard was questioned in previous studies, because it does not apply well to all individuals. Height, weight and resting metabolic rate (RMR, measured by indirect calorimetry) were measured in adolescent males (n = 50) and females (n = 50), women during pregnancy (gestation week 35-41, n = 46), women 24-53 weeks postpartum (n = 27), and active men (n = 30), and were compared to values predicted by the 1-MET standard. The RMR of adolescent males (1.28 kcal/kg x h) was significantly higher than that of adolescent females (1.11 kcal/kg x h), with or without the effects of puberty stage and physical activity levels. The RMR of the pregnant and post-pregnant subjects were not significantly different. The RMR of the active normal weight (0.92 kcal/kg x h) and overweight (0.89 kcal/kg x h) adult males were significantly lower than the 1-MET value. It follows that the 1-MET standard is inadequate for use not only in adult men and women, but also in adolescents and physically active men. It is therefore recommended that practitioners estimate RMR with equations taking into account individual characteristics, such as sex, age and Body Mass Index, and not rely on the 1-MET standard.


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