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Energy requirements of infants

Energy requirements of infants based on energy intake
Compilation of energy intakes published before and after 1980
Total energy expenditure of infants
Energy requirement for growth
Energy requirements of infants predicted from total energy expenditure and growth

Nancy F Butte

Children's Nutrition Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA

Descriptors: energy requirements, energy intake, energy expenditure, energy cost of growth, infancy

The Advisory Group of IDECG recommended that select parts of the 1985 FAO/WHO/UNU Report on energy and protein requirements be reviewed for possible revision and updating. The specific questions posed were:

1. Do the 1985 recommendations need to be revised: what are the main arguments for or against a revision ?
2. What would your recommendations be at this point in time?
3. What additional work would need to be done to resolve problems that persist in this area?

Energy requirements of infants based on energy intake

'The energy requirement of an individual is the level of energy intake from food that will balance energy expenditure when the individual has body size and body composition, and level of physical activity, consistent with long-term good health; and that will allow for the maintenance of economically necessary and socially desirable physical activity. In children the energy requirement includes the energy associated with the deposition of tissues at rates consistent with good health.' (FAO/WHO/UNU, 1985). This basic tenet set forth by the 1985 FAO/WHO/UNU Expert Consultation should be upheld.

Because it was not possible to specify with any confidence the allowance for a desirable level of physical activity, the 1985 FAO/WHO/UNU energy requirements from birth to 10 years were derived from the observed intakes of healthy infants and children growing normally. For infants energy requirements were based on energy intakes compiled by Whitehead et al (1981). Estimated energy requirements were set 5% higher than observed energy intakes to compensate for underestimation of intake (Table 1). Implicit in this approach is the assumption that ad libitum intakes reflect desirable intakes for infants. Although infant intake is largely self-regulated, it can be influenced by external factors.

Correspondence: NF Butte.

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