Do Hunger and Exposure to Food Affect Scores on a Measure of Hedonic Hunger? An Experimental Study

Appetite. 2014 Mar;74:1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2013.11.010. Epub 2013 Nov 21.


Research suggests that visceral bodily states, such as hunger, can affect participants' responses on self-report measures of eating behavior. The present study evaluated the influence of hunger and exposure to palatable food on self-reported hedonic appetite, measured using the Power of Food Scale (PFS). A secondary aim was to evaluate the effects of these manipulations on self-reported external eating and disinhibition. Participants (N=67) ate a standardized meal followed by a 4-h fast. Participants were randomized to one of four groups (Fasted/Food Absence, Fasted/Food Exposure, Fed/Food Absence, or Fed/Food Exposure). In Phase I of the experiment (Hunger Manipulation), participants randomized to the "Fed" group drank a protein shake, while those in the "Fasted" group did not receive a shake. In Phase II (Palatable Food Exposure), participants in the "Food Exposure" group were visually exposed to palatable food items, while "Food Absence" participants were not. All participants completed the PFS, Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire External Eating subscale, and the Disinhibition subscale from the Eating Inventory during Phase II. Results showed no significant main or interactive effects of Hunger condition or Food Exposure condition on PFS, External Eating, or Disinhibition scores (all p's<.33). All effect sizes were small (partial etas squared ⩽.015). Manipulation checks confirmed that the intended hunger and exposure interventions were successful. Results suggest that relatively short fasting periods (e.g., 4h) analogous to typical breaks between meals are not associated with changes in scores on the PFS, External Eating, or Disinhibition scales. Hedonic hunger, at least as measured by the PFS, may represent a relatively stable construct that is not substantially affected by daily variations in hunger. In addition, individual differences in exposure to food in the immediate environment are unlikely to confound research using these measures.

Keywords: DEBQ; Disinhibition; Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire; EI; Eating Inventory; Eating behavior; External Eating; Hedonic hunger; PFS; Power of Food Scale; Self-report.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Appetite / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hunger / physiology*
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Random Allocation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult