Metabolic rate reduced in the last 30 years

Sleepless because you haven’t lost weight after spending an extra 30 minutes in the gym? You may be following the dietetics’ calorie recommendations, but you still have those fat pockets in your lower abdomen. It’s your slow metabolic rate decline in recent decades. Researchers found that the Basal Metabolic rate of humans has decreased in the past 30 years. This is what led to the rise in obesity worldwide.

Basal Energy expenditure (BEE) is the energy that our body uses at rest to perform physiological functions. Activity Expenditure Energy is the amount of energy that the body expends during physical activities such as exercise. Total Energy Expenditure is the sum of all calories burned during both physical and physiological activities.

It could be one of the main factors responsible,” Department of Physiology, St John’s Medical College and co-corresponding author of the study published in March 2023.  It may be one of the major factors,” St John’s Medical College, Department of Physiology and co-corresponding Author of the study that was published in the March 2023 issue of Nature Journal.

A slow BMR will require you to exercise more and eat less in order to maintain a healthy weight.

The total energy expenditure or calories burned should be greater than the amount of calories consumed by an individual. “If we consume or eat more calories than our bodies burn, the excess calories are stored as fat.” 

Dr Kurpad explains the researchers’ calculations were based on a number of factors. One of these was the amount of heat generated and the oxygen consumption when the body is resting.

Basal Metabolic rate (BMR) & Dietary Patterns

The main reason for the decline of BMR is the diet pattern, which includes a sharp variation in carbohydrate and fat consumption, with protein intake being constant.

“Multiple factors influence BMR, including diet. The study states that dietary changes have been made during the obesity crisis, including changes in fiber and fat.

The study shows that the peak in carbohydrate intake was reached at the end of the 1990s and that the linear increase in fat intake began early on. In addition, the composition of fat changed from saturated to polyunsaturated.

Dr Kurpad states that the decline in metabolic rate is also due to the consumption of refined carbohydrates (mainly ultra-processed food).

“Apart from diet, environmental factors such as pollution, including the high level of particulates (PM2.5) present in the air, the lead content in drinking water, and plastics in food all play a role in this”. Dr Kurpad says. The reasons for this include increased screen time, decreased physical activity, and even reduced sleep.

How Italian soldiers sabotage Indian dieticians’ calorie count

World Health Organisation and Food and Agriculture Organisation have calculated detailed energy expenditure rates based on the energy intake and expenditure, body weight, and metabolism rates of people in various age groups and weights. This is the basis used to determine the energy needs and suggest nutritional plans for different populations around the world.

“But, the catch is that most of them rely on the WHO formula, which is based primarily on data collected in Europe from Italian army recruits,” 

Indians and Asians, in general, have more muscle mass. Indians have a higher tendency to be overweight, which puts them at a greater risk of diabetes and other diseases.

The problem is that Asians tend to be heavier than Westerners in terms of fat. BEE is higher for people who have more muscle, as they produce more heat.

This 10 percent difference in calorie counts

Dr Kurpad claims that an Asian who has the same weight as a Westerner will not burn the calories as much because they have more fat in their body. He said that studies on Indians revealed that BEE energy rates would be 10 percent lower than the value obtained through the WHO equation.

“So, if an Indian with the same weight as a 60 kg European needs 1 350 calories (according to WHO calculations), then he will need 10 percent less calories (1350 calories). “But this is not done, and more calories are prescribed,” says Dr Kurpad. He says that this will also cause your BMR to decrease over time.


Researchers concluded that the metabolic rate had been declining for 30 years, and this was one of the major reasons for the global obesity epidemic. This slump is attributed to a number of factors. Still, the dietary changes made in the last 30 years, particularly the increased consumption of animal meat and refined carbohydrate-rich junk food, could be a major factor.

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