Influence of nutritional status on basal metabolic rates among rural agriculturalists of Ngilo-Ilo, East Java

Aaron A. Miller*, Etty Indriati, William Leonard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Previous research has shown that tropical island populations have reduced basal metabolic rates (BMR) associated with the joint influences of heat stress and undernutrition. This study examines variation in BMR among an indigenous population of Indonesia, and compares these data with those collected from earlier studies in Indonesia. Methods: Anthropometric dimensions and BMR were measured on a sample of 35 Indonesian adults (28 men, 7 women) from the rural village of Ngilo-Ilo, East Java. Results: Mean measured BMRs (±SD) were 1433 ± 344 kcal/d in men and 1256 ±257 kcal/d in women, and were not significantly different from estimates using the FAO/WHO/UNU predictive questions. Underweight individuals (BMIs <18.5 kg/m2) had BMRs that were 7.6% below predicted levels, while those with BMIs ≥18.5 kg/m2 had BMRs that were 8.0% above predicted levels (P <.01). Underweight individuals also had significantly higher respiratory quotients (RQ =.94 vs.89; P <.05), suggesting lower levels of fat oxidation. Compared to data from previous studies (1929–1979), men of the Ngilo-Ilo sample had similar BMIs (19.8 vs. 19.2 kg/m2), but higher BMRs, after adjusting for age and body weight (+2.1% vs. −5.6%; P <.05). Conclusions: Among the agriculturalists of Ngilo-Ilo, measured BMRs were low, but not significantly different from those predicted by the FAO/WHO/UNU equations. Among subjects of this sample and from earlier studies, poorer physical nutritional status was associated with reduced BMRs. These results suggest that chronic energy stress has consistently shaped metabolic function among Indonesian rural populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere23169
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology
  • Genetics


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