Document Type




Publication Date



American Physiological Society

Source Publication

Journal of Applied Physiology

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The use of doubly labeled water (DLW) to measure energy expenditure is subject to error if the background abundance of the oxygen and hydrogen isotope tracers changes during the test period. This study evaluated the accuracy and precision of different methods by which such background isotope changes can be corrected, including a modified method that allows prediction of the baseline that would be achieved if subjects were to consume water from a given source indefinitely. Subjects in this study were eight women (4 test subjects and 4 control subjects) who consumed for 28 days water enriched to resemble drinking water aboard the United States space shuttle. Test subjects and control subjects were given a DLW dose on days 1 and 15, respectively. The change to an enriched water source produced a bias in expenditure calculations that exceeded 2.9 MJ/day (35%), relative to calculations from intake-balance. The proposed correction based on the predicted final abundance of 18O and deuterium after equilibration to the new water source eliminated this bias, as did the traditional use of a control group. This new modified correction method is advantageous under field conditions when subject numbers are limited.


Accepted version. Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol. 82, No. 2 (February 1997): 563-570. DOI. © 1997 American Physiological Society. Used with permission.

Randall J. Gretebeck was affiliated with National Aeronautics and Space Administration/Johnson Space Center at the time of publication.

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