Body fat mass (FM) adds to the variance in resting energy expenditure (REE). However, the nature and extent of this relationship remains unclear. Using a database of 1306 women and a linear regression model, we systematically analysed the contribution of FM to the total variance in REE at different grades of adiposity (ranges of body %FM). After adjusting for age, the relative contribution of FM on REE variance increased from low ( ≤ 10 %FM) to normal (>10– ≤ 30 %FM) and moderately elevated (>30– ≤ 40 %FM) grades of adiposity but decreased sharply at high (>40– ≤ 50 %FM) and very high (>50 %FM) grades of adiposity according to the ratio between regression coefficients. These data suggest that the specific metabolic rate of fat tissue is reduced at high adiposity. This should be considered when REE is normalized for FM in obesity.