Fat oxidation rate and the exercise intensity that elicits maximal fat oxidation decreases with pubertal status in young male subjects
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The range of exercise intensities that elicit high fat oxidation rates (FOR) in youth and the influence of pubertal status on peak FOR are unknown. In a longitudinal design, we compared FOR over a range of exercise intensities in a small cohort of developing prepubertal male subjects. Five boys all at Tanner stage 1 (ages 11-12 yr) and nine men (ages 20-26 yr) underwent an incremental cycle ergometry test to volitional exhaustion. FOR curves were determined from indirect calorimetry during the final 30 s of each increment. The same protocol was duplicated annually in the boys as they progressed through puberty. The peak FOR was considerably higher (P<0.05) in boys at Tanner 1 (8.6+/-1.5 mg.kg lean body mass(-1).min(-1)) (mean+/-SD) compared with men (4.2+/-1.1 mg.kg lean body mass(-1).min(-1)). FOR dropped as boys developed through puberty (Tanner 2/3 peak rate=7.6+/-0.6 mg.kg lean body mass(-1).min(-1); Tanner 4 peak rate=5.4+/-1.8 mg.kg lean body mass(-1).min(-1), main effect of Tanner stage; P<0.05) to the levels found in men (not significant). The exercise intensity that elicited peak FOR was higher in the boys at Tanner 1 [56+/-6% peak aerobic power (VO2 peak)] than in men (31+/-4% VO2 peak) (P<0.001). This value tended to decrease by Tanner stage 4 (45+/-10% VO2 peak, main effect of Tanner stage; P=0.06). We conclude that, compared with men, prepubertal boys have higher relative FOR throughout a wide range of exercise intensities and that FOR drops as boys develop through puberty.
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