Objective: To study the phenomenon that obese subjects show considerable individual variability in their reported relationships between eating and sensations of hunger and fullness.
Design: A laboratory study of the relationship between eating behaviour traits and the episodic oscillations in sensations of hunger and fullness in response to obligatory, fixed energy breakfast (481 kcal) and lunch (675 kcal) meals.
Subjects: Obese subjects were divided into two groups based on their responses to four 'screening' questions associated with their habitual experience of hunger and fullness sensations before and after eating: those who experienced sensations of hunger and fullness related to eating (Related-R; n=20, body mass index (BMI)=42.4 kg/m(2)) and those for whom eating was not related to hunger or fullness sensations (Unrelated - UR; n=19, BMI=41.3 kg/m(2)). In addition, a control, lean group (Control - C; n=14, BMI=22.6 kg/m(2)) who experienced sensations of hunger and fullness related to eating was studied.
Measurements: The Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire (TFEQ) was used to measure the eating behaviour traits, disinhibition, restraint and hunger. Profiles of subjective appetite sensations were continuously monitored across the day using visual analogue scales.
Results: All groups displayed clear meal-related oscillations in subjective sensations of hunger, fullness, desire to eat and prospective consumption. In contrast, the TFEQ disinhibition and hunger scores (but not restraint scores) were significantly different (P<0.05) between the groups ((UR; D=13.5+/-0.5, H=10.0+/-0.5), R (D 7.5+/-0.6, H 6.1+/-0.4), C(D 3.7+/-0.5, H 3.7+/-0.5)). In addition, analysis of the intra-meal changes in subjective appetite sensations revealed that the UR group displayed a smaller meal-induced suppression of hunger and elevation of fullness.
Conclusion: These data indicate that the reported relationship between eating and hunger/fullness was associated with obese individuals showing high or low disinhibition scores. In addition, the data suggest that the processes underlying disinhibition may be associated with a modulation of the recognition of meal-related satiety sensations.