Review article: the role of gastric motility in the control of food intake

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Apr;33(8):880-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04609.x. Epub 2011 Feb 22.


Background: From a classical point of view, gastric motility acts to clear the stomach between meals, whereas postprandial motility acts to provide a reservoir for food, mixing and grinding the food and to assure a controlled flow of food to the intestines.

Aim: To summarise findings that support the role of gastric motility as a central mediator of hunger, satiation and satiety.

Methods: A literature review using the search terms 'satiety', 'satiation' and 'food intake' was combined with specific terms corresponding to the sequence of events during and after food intake.

Results: During food intake, when gastric emptying of especially solids is limited, gastric distension and gastric accommodation play an important function in the regulation of satiation. After food intake, when the stomach gradually empties, the role of gastric distension in the determination of appetite decreases and the focus will shift to gastric emptying and intestinal exposure of the nutrients. Finally, we have discussed the role of the empty stomach and the migrating motor complex in the regulation of hunger signals.

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that gastric motility is a key mediator of hunger, satiation and satiety. More specifically, gastric accommodation and gastric emptying play important roles in the regulation of gastric (dis)tension and intestinal exposure of nutrients and hence control satiation and satiety. Correlations between gastric accommodation, gastric emptying and body weight indicate that gastric motility can also play a role in the long-term regulation of body weight.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Digestion / physiology*
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Gastric Emptying / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hunger / physiology*
  • Satiation / physiology*
  • Stomach / physiology*