Stool energy losses and the sources of energy within the stool were determined in 20 healthy controls and 20 patients with cystic fibrosis while on their habitual pancreatic enzyme replacement treatment. Stool energy losses were equivalent to 3.5% of gross energy intake in healthy children (range 1.3-5.8%). Despite a comparable gross energy intake, stool energy losses were three times greater in patients with cystic fibrosis than controls averaging 10.6% of gross energy intake (range 4.9-19.7%). Stool lipid could account for only 29% and 41% of the energy within the stool in controls and patients with cystic fibrosis respectively and was poorly related to stool energy. Approximately 30% of the energy within the stool could be attributable to colonic bacteria in both the healthy children and patients with cystic fibrosis. These results suggest that stool energy losses in healthy children are relatively modest but that even when patients with cystic fibrosis are symptomatically well controlled on pancreatic enzyme replacement, raised stool energy losses may continue to contribute towards an energy deficit sufficient to limit growth in cystic fibrosis. As the energy content per gram wet weight remains relatively constant (8 kJ/g), stool energy losses may be estimated from simple measurements of stool wet weight.
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