1. The energy balance of eleven male and fourteen female adult farmers was measured for 6 d after the harvest, in December-January. Their energy intake was recorded by weighing their food consumption and their energy expenditure was determined using indirect calorimetry.
2. Body-weight, expressed as percentage of expected weight-for-height was 91 and 86% of the Inter-departmental Committee on Nutrition for National Development (1963) standard for women and men respectively.
3. The staple foods were sorghum (Sorghum vulgare) and millet (Pennisetum typhoïdes); carbohydrates, fat and protein supplied approximately 80, 13 and 12% of the total energy of the diet respectively.
4. In the male group, the mean energy intake (9.0 MJ (2148 kcal)) was in good agreement with the average energy output (8.91 MJ (2130 kcal)). By contrast, in the female group, the mean energy expenditure (8.11 MJ (1941 kcal)) exceeded the mean energy intake (6.3 MJ (1515 kcal)) and the deficit was statistically significant.
5. This study allows an evaluation of the adequacy of food intake for subjects living in a particular hostile environment, by using their actual energy output instead of current standard values. The energy deficit found for female farmers whose energy intake was similar to that reported in other developing countries emphasizes the need for a better understanding of the regulation of energy balance in such conditions.