Individual differences in physical activity are closely associated with changes in body weight in adult female rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta)

Elinor L. Sullivan, Frank H. Koegler, Judy L. Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The increased prevalence of overweight adults has serious health consequences. Epidemiological studies suggest an association between low activity and being overweight; however, few studies have objectively measured activity during a period of weight gain, so it is unknown whether low activity is a cause or consequence of being overweight. To determine whether individual differences in adult weight gain are linked to an individual's activity level, we measured activity, via accelerometry, over a prolonged period (9 mo) in 18 adult female rhesus monkeys. Weight, food intake, metabolic rate, and activity were first monitored over a 3-mo period. During this period, there was mild but significant weight gain (5.5 ± 0.88%; t = -6.3, df = 17, P < 0.0001), whereas caloric intake and activity remained stable. Metabolic rate increased, as expected, with weight gain. Activity level correlated with weight gain (r = -0.52, P = 0.04), and the most active monkeys gained less weight than the least active monkeys (t = -2.74, df = 8, P = 0.03). Moreover, there was an eightfold difference in activity between the most and least active monkeys, and initial activity of each monkey was highly correlated with their activity after 9 mo (r = 0.85, P < 0.0001). In contrast, food intake did not correlate with weight gain, and there was no difference in weight gain between monkeys with the highest vs. lowest caloric intake, total metabolic rate, or basal metabolic rate. We conclude that physical activity is a particularly important factor contributing to weight change in adulthood and that there are large, but stable, differences in physical activity among individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R633-R642
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006


  • Energy balance
  • Exercise
  • Obesity
  • Weight gain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Individual differences in physical activity are closely associated with changes in body weight in adult female rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this