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Seasonal weight loss and metabolic adaptation in rural Beninese women: the relationship with body mass index

  • J. Werner Schultink (a1) (a2), Joop M. A. Van Raaij (a2) and Joseph G. A. J. Hautvast (a2)

Abstract

A large variation in seasonal weight loss between individuals exists in rural communities in developing countries. Therefore, it was investigated whether some individuals show a metabolic adaptation and, through that, prevent large body-weight losses during the preharvest season. Basal metabolic rate (BMR), energy intake and physical activity level (PAL) of rural Beninese women were measured in three seasons. Groups of subjects were: women with a body mass index (BMI) < 18 (n 18), and a BMI > 23 (n 16), and women who had shown small (n 18) and large (n 15) preharvest weight loss. All groups of subjects decreased energy intake during the preharvest season by 0·66–1·09 MJ/d. PAL did not show significant seasonal changes in any of the four groups. Only subjects with a BMI < 18 decreased BMR during the preharvest season with 2·9 (SD 6·7) J/kg per min (P < 0·05), with a decrease of 0·8 (SD 1·4) kg (P < 0·05) in body weight. In very thin women with a BMI < 17 (n 5) BMR expressed per unit body weight decreased even more during the preharvest season (by 12 %).

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