Why There Is No Link Between Hunger And How Much We Eat

Why There Is No Link Between Hunger And How Much We Eat

Researchers find no link between how hungry we feel and the number of calories we consume.

Their work suggests that food marketed as having appetite-modifying properties does not alter our calorie intake.

The findings highlight a problem with health claims made by the food industry and the way in which many products are advertised—especially those aimed at people trying to lose weight.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield’s department of oncology and metabolism analyzed 462 scientific studies and found appetite ratings failed to correspond with energy intake—the number of calories consumed—in the majority of studies.

“The food industry is littered with products which are marketed on the basis of their appetite-modifying properties. Whilst these claims may be true, they shouldn’t be extended to imply that energy intake will be reduced as a result,” says study leader Bernard Corfe of the Molecular Gastroenterology Research Group.

“For example, you could eat a meal which claims to satisfy your appetite and keep you feeling full-up for a long period of time but nonetheless go on to consume a large amount of calories later on.”

Only 6 percent of the studies tested a direct statistical comparison between energy intake and appetite, possibly suggesting that researchers had avoided reporting this finding. Of the six percent only around half could find a link, further emphasizing how tenuous the relationship is.

The team now suggests that more research is needed to examine other factors governing actual food intake include sensorial environment, social factors, entrained behavior relating to food timing, along with our innate physical regulation of intake.

“More research needs to be done into the other factors which do influence our calorie intake,” says Corfe.


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“This will be important to understand how obesity occurs, how to prevent it, and how we need to work in partnership with the food industry to develop improved tests for foods that are genuinely and effectively able to satisfy appetite.”

The study appears in Food and Science Nutrition.

Source: University of Sheffield

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