Resting energy expenditure is not influenced by classical music
© Carlsson et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2005
Received: 16 August 2005
Accepted: 31 August 2005
Published: 31 August 2005
Obesity shows an increasing prevalence worldwide and a decrease in energy expenditure has been suggested to be one of the risk factors for developing obesity. An increase in resting energy expenditure would have a great impact on total energy expenditure. This study shows that classical music do not influence resting energy expenditure compared to complete silence. Further studies should be performed including other genres of music and other types of stress-inductors than music.
Obesity shows an increasing prevalence worldwide  and a decrease in energy expenditure has been suggested to be one of the risk factors for developing obesity . Increasing energy expenditure could be done by increasing physical activity, but resting energy expenditure (REE) is the largest part of an humans' energy expenditure (70–80%), and an increase in REE would have a large impact on total energy expenditure. REE is assessed by indirect calorimetry by measurements of oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production which, when known, is calculated into energy expenditure . It is known that ingestion of food increases resting energy expenditure – also called diet induced thermogenesis  Nicotine and caffeine have also been shown to increase energy expenditure . None has however studied the effect of external sound stimuli, such as music, on REE. The aim of the current study was to assess if classical music has an effect on REE, and if there are differences between different types of classical music.
Description of the calm and stressful music which each lasted for 10 minutes
Piece of music
Piece of music
Gymnopédie No 1
String quartet No 4 prestissimo con sordino
Gymnopédie No 3
From The Fire Bird: "Infernal dance of all Kashcers's subjects"
Johann Sebastian Bach
Hans Werner Henze
2nd movement "Dies irae" from Requiem for piano, trumpet and chamber orchestra
Forty subjects, 29 women and 11 men, completed the study. One subject dropped out because of feeling uncomfortable in the ventilated hood, one subject due to technical issues with the indirect calorimeter, and one subject due to problems with the CD-player. Mean (SD) age of the subjects were 35 (14) y, body height 172 (10) cm, body weight 68 (13) kg, and body mass index 23 (3) kg/m2. Mean (SD) REE during silence was 5720 (1063) kJ/day. No significant differences in REE between silence and the two sets of music were found, 5710 (1054) kJ/day during calm music (p = 0.57) and 5740 (1046) kJ/day during stressful music (p = 0.43). Thirty-eight subjects perceived the calm music as calm and 28 subjects the stressful music as stressful. However, analyzing the results regarding to their own perception of the results, did not yield any statistically significant differences in measured REE between silence and the two music periods.
This study could not detect any statistical significant or clinical relevant influences of music on REE, and then theoretically not on total energy expenditure. We chose to compare classical calm music to classical stressful music. This was to limit the confounding effect of the subjects own music preferences. When the stressful music was selected, not only tempo of the music was taken into consideration. The stressful music was also supposed to be irregular, have large differences between high and low frequencies, include many abrupt sounds, and give a sense of unpredictability. Most of the subjects perceived the calm music as calm and the stressful music as stressful, even if some subjects experienced the stressful music as "other". Maybe the stressful music was not stressful enough. Further studies should be conducted to investigate other types of music, i.e. pop music vs. heavy metal, and preferably also other types of stress-inductors than music combined with measurements of heart rate and other measures of stress. The results from this study do not support that music during rest could be used in obesity prevention or treatment alone, but music could of course be combined with physical activity to achieve an increase in total energy expenditure.
List of abbreviations
resting energy expenditure
The authors are grateful to Lena Hulthén, professor at Dept of Clinical Nutrition, Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University for valuable input during the study design.
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