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What Is the Schofield Equation?

By Susan Abe
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The Schofield equation is the name of a formula used to calculate an individual's basal metabolic rate (BMR). Basal metabolism is the amount of energy a body needs to use to sustain life. Energy is needed for metabolism at the cellular level, synthesis of hormones and enzymes, temperature maintenance, muscle movement and more. The BMR measures the basal metabolism over a given period of time, usually over the course of 24 hours. The Schofield equation is actually one of a set of equations that calculates minimal daily caloric needs to avoid weight loss based upon an individual's age group and sex.

The BMR represents 45 to 70 percent of calories burned during the day. The large disparity in this percentage is secondary to the enormous variability of the BMR depending upon age, sex and physical activity. The remaining percentage of calories utilized relies primarily upon the degree of physical activity expended by a given individual. For sedentary individuals who engage in little physical activity, the BMR will represent a higher percentage of calories burned. Physically active teenage boys, on the other hand, will have a BMR representing a smaller percentage of their daily caloric expenditures.

Internet calculators are available to perform Schofield equations. A table, however, is the easiest way to identify how an individual's age and sex influence the appropriate Schofield equation necessary to determine the basal metabolic rate. As indicated in the table below, men have a higher overall BMR than women and younger individuals have higher BMRs than do their elders. The larger than expected constant of 14.8 under the female column for those aged 18 to 30 represents the higher caloric expenditures typical of pregnancy and lactation. The overall greater BMR of men over that of women is attributed to their body composition: men have a larger ratio of muscle to fat, in addition to their typically greater amount of physical activity.


AGE (in years) MALE FEMALE
15-18 BMR = 17.6 x kg weight + 656 BMR = 13.3 x kg weight + 690
19-30 BMR = 15.0 x kg weight + 690 BMR = 14.8 x kg weight + 485
31-60 BMR = 11.4 x kg weight + 870 BMR = 8.1 x kg weight + 842
>60 BMR = 11.7 x kg weight + 585 BMR = 9.0 x kg weight + 656
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Discussion Comments
By Telsyst — On Mar 13, 2014

This person must have been quite a thinker. It must have been a chore to come up with a formula to estimate this. You would think this would be next to impossible to calculate for an individual, but I bet he tried. There are so many variables. Pregnancy is only one small possibility.

Considering the number of genetic differences from family member to family member, any number of metabolic variances could exist from person to person.

Looking at the genetic tendencies toward cancer some people have but others don't in common genetic lines. The same can be said for people having weak hearts, kidneys or lungs and all these can have a factor in life expectancy or in metabolic rates.

This is a good equation to get a ball park figure of where you stand. They are working on DNA computing that can one day take this to another level.

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