Wiggle, walk, tap your toes, shop, dance, clean your basement, play the guitar to boost your NEAT – or if you’re a scientist, your "non-exercise activity thermogenesis." Mayo Clinic researchers report in today’s issue of the journal Science that NEAT -- more powerful than formal exercise -- determines who is lean, and who is obese. Obese persons sit, on average, 150 minutes more each day than their naturally lean counterparts. This means obese people burn 350 fewer calories a day than do lean people.
James Levine, M.D., is the Mayo Clinic endocrinologist who led the study. His research team explored the specific links between inactivity, low energy expenditure and obesity in an effort to devise new treatments for obesity, a public health epidemic.
"Our patients have told us for years that they have low metabolism, and as caregivers, we have never quite understood what that means -- until today," says Dr. Levine. "The answer is they have low NEAT, which means they have a biological need to sit more. A person can expend calories either by going to the gym, or through everyday activities. Our study shows that the calories that people burn in their everyday activities -- their NEAT -- are far, far more important in obesity than we previously imagined."
Says James Levine, M.D., the Mayo Clinic endocrinologist who led the study: "This was a massive team effort. It should be said that this collection of teams at this level of expertise don’t appear anywhere else in the world."
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