Human Growth pp 117-139 | Cite as

Body Composition and Energy Needs during Growth

  • Malcolm A. Holliday


The study of body composition, dividing the body into component parts, is a logical step in the process of trying to correlate structure with function on a “whole-body” scale. Characterizing changes in body composition is a means for understanding the process of growth and change in function that affect nutritional needs as growth proceeds. Anatomic divisions are rather obvious, e.g., organ mass and muscle mass. Fluid–mineral divisions are less readily visualized. The body is divided into total body water and solids; total body water is further divided into an extracellular and intracellular phase. Extracellular fluid (ECF) includes plasma, interstitial fluid, and connective tissue fluids; intracellular fluid (ICF)—the fluid phase of cells—is mostly in organs and muscle (Widdowson and Dickerson, 1964). The functional aspects of body composition can be viewed in terms of organ function (brain, liver, etc.), locomotion (muscle mass), energy reserve (fat mass), environment for cells (extracellular fluid), and supporting structures (connective tissue and bone) (Figure 1). These functions, like their structures, are rather self-evident. The major organs and muscle constitute the bulk of cell proteins in the body. Of these, muscle protein is the principal reservoir for amino acids when diet is deficient or when there is a need for gluconeogenesis from amino acids. While glycogen and protein provide some reserve for energy, fat is the real reservoir for energy when the diet is deficient. Plasma and interstitial fluid are the environment and transportation system for the cells. Supporting structures—connective tissue and bone, etc., although containing protein, are not sources for protein during diet deficiency. The ECF of connective tissue is a reserve for interstitial fluid and plasma when dehydration occurs. Bone contains a reserve for calcium, phosphorus, and some other minerals.


Adipose Tissue Body Composition Muscle Mass Energy Intake Lean Body Mass 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malcolm A. Holliday
    • 1
  1. 1.The Children’s Renal Center, Department of PediatricsUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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