This is a pilot study testing a new indirect calorimeter device. This project was designed to determine the effect of a high fat versus a standard chow diet and age on the energy gap (the difference between energy intake and energy expenditure). Measurements of energy expenditure and oxygen consumption were obtained over a 23-hour period from a group of rats fed a high fat diet and a group of rats fed standard chow diet. The experiments were repeated during an experimental phase for 12 weeks, a phase of caloric restriction for 4 weeks, and a phase of weight regain for 4 weeks. We found energy expenditure and oxygen consumption to decrease in the caloric restriction phase and increase with excessive weight gain. Rats fed a high fat diet and obesity prone rats had a wider energy gap than rats fed a standard chow diet and obesity resistant rats. The caloric restriction phase closed the energy gap between energy expenditure and energy intake for all of the rats. The weight regain phase shifted the rats back into positive energy balance so that the energy intake was greater than the energy expenditure. The rats showed greater weight gain in the weight regain phase than in the experimental phase for all groups of rats. The indirect calorimeter device would require further testing to improve the accuracy of the measurements of respiratory quotient and carbon dioxide production before being used in future clinical research applications. The indirect calorimeter device has the potential to record respiratory quotient and carbon dioxide production.
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