American Journal of Human Biology
Volume 17, Issue 2 , Pages 155 - 172
Basal metabolic rate in the Yakut (Sakha) of Siberia
J. Josh Snodgrass et al.
Human indigenous circumpolar populations have elevated basal metabolic rates (BMRs) relative to predicted values; this metabolic elevation has been postulated to be a physiological adaptation to chronic and severe cold stress. The present study examines BMR in the Yakut, an indigenous high-latitude population from the Sakha Republic of Russia to determine (1) whether the Yakut show evidence of an elevated BMR, (2) if the Yakut display evidence of age-related changes in BMR, and (3) whether lifestyle differences influence BMR. BMR was measured during the late summer in 75 women and 50 men (ages 18-56 years) from the Siberian village of Berdygestiakh. Measured BMR (± SEM) of the entire sample was significantly elevated (+6.5%) compared to predictions based on body mass (6,623.7 ± 94.9 vs. 6,218.2 ± 84.7 kJ/day; P < 0.001). Additionally, measured BMR for the entire sample was significantly higher than predictions based on fat-free mass (+20.8%) and surface area (+8.9%). Males and females both showed significant elevations relative to all three standards. The elevated BMR of the Yakut does not appear to be attributable to extreme levels of protein, since the Yakut consume a mixed diet with a substantial proportion of carbohydrates. No significant age-related changes in BMR were found when controlled for body composition. No significant relationship was found between lifestyle variables and BMR, suggesting the possibility of a genetic or developmental mechanism. This study provides additional evidence of metabolic elevation in indigenous circumpolar groups and has important implications for estimating the nutritional requirements of these populations.