Background: Pediatric obesity is a multifactorial disease which can be caused by underlying medical disorders arising from disruptions in the hypothalamic leptin-melanocortin pathway, which regulates satiety and energy expenditure. Aim: To investigate and compare resting energy expenditure (REE) and body composition characteristics of children and adolescents with severe obesity with or without underlying medical causes. Methods: This prospective observational study included pediatric patients who underwent an extensive diagnostic workup in our academic centre that evaluated endocrine, non-syndromic and syndromic genetic, hypothalamic, and medication-induced causes of obesity. REE was assessed by indirect calorimetry; body composition by air displacement plethysmography. The ratio between measured REE (mREE) and predicted REE (Schofield equations), REE%, was calculated, with decreased mREE defined as REE% ≤90% and elevated mREE ≥110%. Additionally, the influence of fat-free-mass (FFM) on mREE was evaluated using multiple linear regression. Results: We included 292 patients (146 [50%] with body composition measurements), of which 218 (75%) patients had multifactorial obesity and 74 (25%) an underlying medical cause: non-syndromic and syndromic genetic (n= 29 and 28, respectively), hypothalamic (n= 10), and medication-induced (n= 7) obesity. Mean age was 10.8 ± 4.3 years, 59% were female, mean BMI SDS was 3.8 ± 1.1, indicating severe obesity. Mean REE% was higher in children with non-syndromic genetic obesity (107.4% ± 12.7) and lower in children with hypothalamic obesity (87.6% ± 14.2) compared to multifactorial obesity (100.5% ± 12.6, both p<0.01). In 9 children with pseudohypoparathyroidism type 1a, mean REE% was similar (100.4 ± 5.1). Across all patients, mREE was decreased in 60 (21%) patients and elevated in 69 (24%) patients. After adjustment for FFM, mREE did not differ between patients within each of the subgroups of underlying medical causes compared to multifactorial obesity (all p>0.05). Conclusions: In this cohort of children with severe obesity due to various etiologies, large inter-individual differences in mREE were found. Consistent with previous studies, almost half of patients had decreased or elevated mREE. This knowledge is important for patient-tailored treatment, e.g. personalized dietary and physical activity interventions and consideration of pharmacotherapy affecting central energy expenditure regulation in children with decreased mREE.
This work was supported by the Elisabeth Foundation (grant
name ObesEcare), a non-profit foundation supporting
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