Commercial Devices Provide Estimates of Energy Balance with Varying Degrees of Validity in Free-Living Adults.

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DOI: 10.1093/jn/nxab317


BACKGROUND: The challenges of accurate estimation of energy intake (EI) are well-documented, with self-reported values 12%-20% below expected values. New approaches rely on gold-standard assessments of the other components of energy balance, energy expenditure (EE) and energy storage (ES), to estimate EI.

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the validity, repeatability, and measurement error of consumer devices when estimating energy balance in a free-living population.

METHODS: Twenty-four healthy adults (14 women, 10 men; mean ± SD age: 30.7 ± 8.2 y) completed two 14-d assessment periods, including assessments of EE and ES using gold-standard [doubly labeled water (DLW) and DXA] and commercial devices [Fitbit Alta HR activity monitor (Alta) and Fitbit Aria wireless body composition scale (Aria)], and of EI by dietician-administered recalls. Accuracy and validity were assessed using Spearman correlation, interclass correlation, mean absolute percentage error, and equivalency testing. We also applied linear measurement error modeling including error in gold-standard devices and within-subject repeated-measures design to calibrate consumer devices and quantify error.

RESULTS: There was moderate to strong agreement for EE between the Fitbit Alta and DLW at each time point (rs = 0.82 and 0.66 for Times 1 and 2, respectively). There was weak agreement for ES between the Fitbit Aria and DXA (rs = 0.15 and 0.49 for Times 1 and 2, respectively). Correlations between methods to assess EI ranged from weak to strong, with agreement between the DXA/DLW-calculated EI and dietary recalls being the highest (rs = 0.63 for Time 1 and 0.73 for Time 2). Only EE from the Fitbit Alta at Time 1 was equivalent to the DLW value using equivalency testing.

CONCLUSIONS: Commercial devices provide estimates of energy balance in free-living adults with varying degrees of validity compared to gold-standard techniques. EE estimates were the most robust overall, whereas ES estimates were generally poor.

Journal Title

The Journal of nutrition





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MeSH Keywords

Adult; Body Composition; Diet; Energy Intake; Energy Metabolism; Female; Humans; Male; Self Report; Young Adult


consumer devices; energy balance; energy expenditure; energy intake; energy storage; measurement error modeling

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