Foods touted to have appetite-modifying properties do not alter our calorie intake, a new study has found which suggests that there is no link between how hungry we feel and how much we consume. The findings highlight a problem with health claims made by the food industry and the way in which many products are advertised – especially those aimed at people trying to lose weight.
Researchers from the University of Sheffield in the UK, analysed 462 scientific studies and found appetite ratings failed to correspond with energy intake – the number of calories consumed – in the majority of studies.
“The food industry is littered with products which are marketed on the basis of their appetite-modifying properties. Whilst these claims may be true, they should not be extended to imply that energy intake will be reduced as a result,” said Bernard Corfe, from the Sheffield who led the study.
“For example, you could eat a meal which claims to satisfy your appetite and keep you feeling full-up for a long period of time but nonetheless go on to consume a large amount of calories later on,” said Corfe.
Only six per cent of the studies tested a direct statistical comparison between energy intake and appetite, possibly suggesting that researchers had avoided reporting this finding.
Of the six per cent only around half could find a link, further emphasising how tenuous the relationship is.
The team suggests that more research is needed to examine other factors governing actual food intake include sensorial environment, social factors, entrained behaviour relating to food timing, along with our innate physical regulation of intake.
“This will be important to understand how obesity occurs, how to prevent it, and how we need to work in partnership with the food industry to develop improved tests for foods that are genuinely and effectively able to satisfy appetite,” said Corfe.
The study appears in the journal Food and Science Nutrition.