Birth weight predicted baseline muscular efficiency, but not response of energy expenditure to calorie restriction: An empirical test of the predictive adaptive response hypothesis. Academic Article uri icon


  • Aiming to test the evolutionary significance of relationships linking prenatal growth conditions to adult phenotypes, this study examined whether birth size predicts energetic savings during fasting. We specifically tested a Predictive Adaptive Response (PAR) model that predicts greater energetic saving among adults who were born small.Data were collected from a convenience sample of young adults living in Albuquerque, NM (n = 34). Indirect calorimetry quantified changes in resting energy expenditure (REE) and active muscular efficiency that occurred in response to a 29-h fast. Multiple regression analyses linked birth weight to baseline and postfast metabolic values while controlling for appropriate confounders (e.g., sex, body mass).Birth weight did not moderate the relationship between body size and energy expenditure, nor did it predict the magnitude change in REE or muscular efficiency observed from baseline to after fasting. Alternative indicators of birth size were also examined (e.g., low v. normal birth weight, comparison of tertiles), with no effects found. However, baseline muscular efficiency improved by 1.1% per 725 g (S.D.) increase in birth weight (P = 0.037).Birth size did not influence the sensitivity of metabolic demands to fasting-neither at rest nor during activity. Moreover, small birth size predicted a reduction in the efficiency with which muscles convert energy expended into work accomplished. These results do not support the ascription of adaptive function to phenotypes associated with small birth size. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

publication date

  • December 2015