Introduction: Subjective feelings of appetite are measured using visual analogue scales (VAS) in controlled trials. However, the methods used to analyze VAS during the Satiation (pre- to post-meal) and Satiety (post-meal to subsequent meal) periods vary broadly, making it difficult to compare results amongst independent studies testing the same product. This review proposes a methodology to analyze VAS during both the Satiation and Satiety periods, allowing us to compare results in a meta-analysis.
Methods: A methodology to express VAS results as incremental areas under the curve (iAUC) for both the Satiation and Satiety periods is proposed using polydextrose as a case study. Further, a systematic review and meta-analysis on subjective feelings of appetite was conducted following the PRISMA methodology. Meta-analyses were expressed as Standardized Mean Difference (SMD).
Results: Seven studies were included in the meta-analysis. There were important differences in the methods used to analyze appetite ratings amongst these studies. The separate subjective feelings of appetite reported were Hunger, Satisfaction, Fullness, Prospective Food Consumption, and the Desire to Eat. The method proposed here allowed the results of the different studies to be homogenized. The meta-analysis showed that Desire to Eat during the Satiation period favors polydextrose for the reduction of this subjective feeling of appetite (SMD = 0.24, I² < 0.01, p = 0.018); this effect was also significant in the sub-analysis by sex for the male population (SMD = 0.35, I² < 0.01, p = 0.015). There were no other significant results.
Conclusion: It is possible to compare VAS results from separate studies. The assessment of iAUC for both the Satiation and Satiety periods generates results of homogeneous magnitudes. This case study demonstrates, for the first time, that polydextrose reduces the Desire to Eat during the Satiation period. This may explain, at least in part, the observed effects of polydextrose on the reduction of levels of energy intake at subsequent meals.
Keywords: VAS; appetite; iAUC; meta-analysis; polydextrose.