Is non-exercise activity thermogenesis-a target for reversing obesity?

James A. Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy expenditure of all physical activities other than volitional sporting-like exercise. NEAT includes all the activities that render us vibrant, unique and independent beings such as working, playing, and dancing. Because people of the same weight have markedly variable activity levels, it is not surprising that NEAT varies substantially between people by 2000 kcal/ day. Evidence suggests that low NEAT may occur in obesity but in a very specific fashion. Obese individuals appear to exhibit an innate tendency to be seated for 2.5 hours per day more than sedentary lean counterparts. If obese individuals were to adopt the lean 'NEAT-o-type', they could potentially expend an additional 350 kcal/day. Obesity was rare a century ago and the human genotype has not changed over that time. Thus, the obesity epidemic may reflect the emergence of a chair-enticing environment to which those with an innate tendency to sit, did so and became obese. To reverse obesity therefore, we need to develop individual strategies to promote standing & ambulating time by 2.5 hours per day but also re-engineer our work, school and home environments to render active living the option of choice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-350
Number of pages6
JournalChinese Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006


  • Energy expenditure
  • Malnutrition
  • Non-exercise activity thermogenesis
  • Obesity
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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