Hunger May Have Nothing to Do With How Much We Eat Because Science Hates Us

It turns out that hunger is more complicated than you’d think.

In fact, it may have nothing to do with how much you eat or how many calories you take in.

According to new research from the University of Sheffield, there is actually little evidence to link hunger levels to the quantity of food we consume.

That could be why, even after mowing down on half of a gooey, fully loaded pizza, you still want more.


For a new analysis published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, researchers looked at 462 studies that assessed calorie consumption and self-reported appetite.

While 225 studies (48.7 per cent) revealed a link between hunger and calories consumed, the remaining 237 studies (51.3 per cent) found no link.

Only 6 per cent of the studies made a direct statistical comparison between calorie intake and appetite – the other 94 percent of studies didn’t perform such an analysis or the authors chose not to report it.

Furthermore, only half of this small group of studies established a link between hunger and what people ate.


“The factors that drive calorie consumption are many-fold and include energy expenditure; the sensorial environment is potent with visual and olfactory triggers especially so; entrained behaviours like mealtimes or snacking; and so on,” Lead author Bernard Corfe, Ph.D., told Vice. “Appetite is a part of that equation, but our work suggests it may not be the most important part, not by a long way.”

So, what does that mean for you?

“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,” said Corfe in a release. Meaning food marketed as having appetite-modifying properties does not alter our calorie intake.

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

So, don’t believe everything you read.

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