Sagrado Professor Opens Doors in the Field of Science at the International Level | inSagrado

Sagrado Professor Opens Doors in the Field of Science at the International Level

Dr. Francisco Arencibia Albite challenges the validity of the Energy Balance Theory with a new model.

Dr. Francisco Arencibia Albite

By Internationalization and Intercollegiate Relations

Sagrado alumnus and professor, Dr. Francisco Arencibia Albite, recently published a mathematical analysis in the peer-reviewed journal HELIYON that challenges the Energy Balance Theory given a series of inconsistencies that, according to the research, make it false.

In turn, he proposed a mass balance model to explain obesity and fluctuations in weight, which can have great repercussions in the field of public health and in the clinical control of obesity.

In summary, Energy Balance Theory proposes that an individual must ingest the same amount of energy that he/she expends -measured in calories- to keep his/her weight stable. If, on the contrary, the caloric intake is greater or less than the energy expended, the body would gain or lose weight, respectively. This theory provides the foundations that justify current public health policies that seek to control the incidence of obesity and overweight, as well as most major risk factors in the development of diabetes, hypertension and metabolic syndrome.

For Arencibia, an associate professor in the Department of Natural Sciences, this theory raised serious doubts. “I wanted to understand how to mathematically model the way in which a subject’s weight evolves over time based on changes in their diet and physical activity,” Arencibia said about the research he carried out for about ten years. Using analytical chemistry and linear algebra techniques, he discovered that “during periods when weight remains stable, the ingested energy does not equal the expended energy, as proposed by Energy Balance Theory. In other words, a body weight that does not change over time coincides with an imbalance between caloric consumption and expenditure, not otherwise.”

The alternative proposed to explain obesity and fluctuations in weight is the Mass Balance Model (MBM). This model, when computationally contrasted with the Energy Balance Model in the same diversity of scenarios, was much more accurate, while the Energy Balance Model presented clear errors.

“This work destabilizes the foundations of all the existing literature on energy metabolism. The findings may represent the beginning of a paradigm shift in obesity research.”

Francisco Arencibia Albite
Professor at Sagrado

It is precisely this destabilization which has sparked interest in science and mathematical professionals, including researchers and companies from different parts of the world. Among them is Dr. Amanda Salis, a professor at the University of Western Australia. Salis and her colleagues conducted a famous study in Australia called the TEMPO diet trial, which investigates the effect of extremely low-calorie diets in women with postmenopausal obesity. “When she read my research paper, Dr. Salis asked me to analyze the data from her study with my mass balance model,” Arencibia said.

On the other hand, Anssi Manninen, chairman of the board and shareholder of the Finnish company Dominus Nutrition, is interested in widely publicizing Arencibia’s findings. “Manninen contacted me to create the non-profit MBM Research Group and to rewrite my publication in less technical language and with new simulations, so that it is more accessible to a greater number of readers.” The publication will soon be submitted to the prestigious journal Nature.

From a teaching perspective, Arencibia instills in his students the advantages of mathematical modeling and the importance of research as a contribution that specialists in science and mathematics can make at a global level.

“The great technological advancements that we are all enjoying today are findings from the research of others who asked questions and set out to find answers. We need men and women who want to dare to identify problems and explore the variables to find possible solutions,” said the professor, who has been teaching at Sagrado since 2004 in the areas of Mathematics and Biological Sciences.

Undoubtedly, the international scope of scientific and mathematical research is an achievement that strengthens the teaching and learning process at our university. To learn more about curricular and extracurricular internationalization opportunities, those interested can write to internacional@sagrado.edu.

Scroll to Top
Skip to content