Comparison of Verbal and Pictorial Measures of Hunger During Fasting in Normal Weight and Obese Subjects

Obes Res. 2000 Nov;8(8):566-74. doi: 10.1038/oby.2000.73.


Objective: Friedman, Ulrich, and Mattes described a new pictorial instrument for assessing hunger wherein respondents outline areas on a drawing of a human figure to depict the location of their hunger sensations. The present study compared normal weight and obese individuals on the pictorial measure and on more traditional verbal hunger measures during a 22-hour fast.

Research methods and procedures: The pictorial measure, along with 13 verbal items assessing hunger and hunger-related symptoms, was administered to 29 normal weight college students and 46 overweight clinic patients four times during a 22-hour fast. Factor analyses of verbal hunger items produced Hunger, Somatic Symptoms, and Stomach Symptoms factors. The pictorial measure was divided into peripheral (arms, legs, head) and central (trunk) body areas.

Results: The increases in hunger during the fast were greater when measured using the pictorial as opposed to the verbal instrument. Correlations between and within the three verbal hunger measures and two pictorial measures were generally few in number and modest in size. The overall pattern of correlations suggested that the verbally based hunger measures more adequately reflected the experience of hunger in normal weight than in obese individuals. A significant interaction between weight status and assessment period was found for the pictorial measure, indicating that normal weight subjects experienced more bodily hunger than overweight subjects initially but experienced less hunger than obese subjects after a prolonged period of food deprivation.

Discussion: Although more testing is needed, these results suggest that the pictorial hunger assessment provides information about the experience of hunger that could complement information provided by traditional verbally based hunger measures.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Weight*
  • Fasting / physiology*
  • Fasting / psychology
  • Female
  • Food Deprivation* / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hunger*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Perception
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors