The relationship between energy expenditure and environmental temperature in congenitally obese and non‐obese Zucker rats.

G. Armitage, R. B. Harris, G. R. Hervey, G. Tobin

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24 Scopus citations


The energy expenditure of normal and congenitally obese adult female Zucker rats has been measured by continuous indirect calorimetry for periods of 3‐10 days at ambient temperatures varied from 30 to 5 degrees C. Rectal temperatures were also recorded. Exposure to cold caused no ill‐effects in normal or obese rats. The rectal temperatures of obese rats were about 1 degree C lower than those of normal rats. The rectal temperatures of normal rats did not change measurably with ambient temperature; in obese rats rectal temperature rose slightly as ambient temperature fell. In normal and obese rats, energy expenditure showed a smooth, steeply sloping, negative relationship to ambient temperature. Energy expenditure per rat was higher in obese than in normal rats at all temperatures. The two slightly curvilinear regressions were nearly 'parallel', with a separation of about 40 kJ/day per rat at the mid‐point. This study therefore does not confirm suggestions that obese Zucker rats suffer from a defect in the level of energy expenditure, or in their capacity to increase it when exposed to cold. It is suggested that in both normal and obese rats the level of energy expenditure was determined by thermoregulatory control. The greater heat production of obese rats may have been a response to their lower core temperature. A steady state in which greater heat production is associated with lower core temperature implies lower insulation between body core and surface. This could be due to greater blood flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-207
Number of pages11
JournalThe Journal of Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 1984
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

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