A room calorimeter measures a patient’s energy expenditure or metabolism under various climactic conditions. The measurement technique – known as room calorimetry – measures the difference between O2 and CO2 concentrations consumed and expelled. This difference can then be used to determine the energy consumption. In addition to measuring gas concentrations, these room calorimeters, or commonly referred to as respiration chambers, can also be used to analyse food intake, faeces output and blood samples. Respiration chambers are airtight cabins measuring two by three metres in which patients or trial subjects are ‘locked’ for one or more days. These chambers have a bed, television, toilet, TV, internet and all other basic comforts.
The central question this research is trying to answer is how much energy (read: food) man needs to survive. In a world where obesity is quickly reaching devastating new proportions, this type of research helps us understand the effects of dieting, of exercising twice a week, of consuming energy drinks or other nutritional supplements and the gives us new insight into the metabolism of older individuals with chronic disorders. This is the basic function of the room calorimeter.