Scientists find no link between appetite & calorie intake

Michelle Wolff
By: Michelle Wolff

With obesity on the rise, it’s no surprise that the food industry strives to make foods that cater to those looking to lose weight. These so called “appetite suppressers” claim to subdue appetite for a long time and in turn cause one to eat less throughout the day. Scientists from the University of Sheffield went on to test this theory by looking at 462 studies that compared calorie intake with appetite rating and found very contradicting results.

Dr. Bernard Corfe, who led the study, worked with colleagues to compile data from the studies to determine the efficacy of these foods and their impact on appetite. The studies used appetite rating to measure energy intake (EI), however the reliability of EI has not yet been reviewed, and therefore is not completely dependable. The studies used both quantified appetite ratings and EI. The direct statistical comparison between the endpoints, intervention type and study population were also recorded.


After thoroughly comparing various studies, they found that appetite scores did not correspond with EI in 51.3% of the studies and only 6% of them even tested for a direct statistical comparison between calorie intake and appetite. Even more so, of that 6%, only around half could find a direct link. They found that any relationship between EI and appetite was independent of study type stratification by age, gender or sample size and that the self-reported appetite ratings did not accurately predict EI. With that being said, there was no strong relationship showing that the amount of calories eaten effects ones appetite. Although some of the foods did show to suppress appetite for a long period of time, the excess calories were often consumed later on in the day.

Dr. Bernard Corfe stated that much more research needs to be done to define the factors that directly influence food intake which could include things such as sensorial environment, social factors, entrained behavior relating to food timing, along with our innate physical regulation of intake. Thus, they concluded that self-reported appetite ratings of appetite do not reliably predict EI and one should be careful if they are using self-reported appetite scores to predict EI. Further research on this topic is going to be a necessary step in working towards curing the rising obesity rate, which is now at the highest it has ever been. Further findings may help us understand why obesity occurs for other reasons then excess energy intake and how to prevent it. Once there is solid data, then the food industry can work to produce foods that efficiently satisfy ones appetite for long periods of time, with no late night binges. Once this happens, we can expect to see a decrease in obesity as well as a decrease in many obesity driven diseases.


  1. Guy M. Holt, Lauren J. Owen, Sophie Till, et al. Systematic Literature Review Shows That Appetite Rating Does Not Predict Energy Intake.
  2. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 2016; 10: 1080/10408398 Science Daily Website. Accessed December 5th, 2016.

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