Determinants of appetite ratings: the role of age, gender, BMI, physical activity, smoking habits, and diet/weight concern

  • Nikolaj T. Gregersen Department of Human Nutrition, LIFE, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Bente K. Møller
  • Anne Raben
  • Søren T. Kristensen
  • Lotte Holm
  • Anne Flint
  • Arne Astrup
Keywords: Appetite Sensations, Physiological Determinants, Psychological Factors


Background: Appetite measures are often recorded by visual analogue scales (VAS), and are assumed to reflect central nervous system (CNS) perceptions and sensations. However, little is known about how physiological, psychological, social, and cultural factors influence VAS. Objective: To investigate whether age, gender, body mass index (BMI), smoking habits, physical activity, diet behaviour, and menstruation cycle are determinants of appetite ratings. Design: We investigated appetite ratings in different groups of a population during a single meal test, including 178 healthy women (98) and men (80), aged 20-60 years with a BMI of 18.5-35.0 kg/m2. Subjects consumed an evening meal composed to meet individual requirements of energy content and recommendations regarding macronutrient composition. Before and every half hour until 3 hours after the meal, subjects filled out VAS for satiety, fullness, hunger, and prospective food intake. They also filled in a questionnaire on eating/slimming behaviour. Results: Multiple linear regression analyses showed that gender and age were the most powerful predictors of postprandial satiety (p <0.001, adj. R2=0.19) and hunger (p<0.001, adj. R2=0.15). Repeated measures general linear model (GLM) analyses revealed that women felt more satisfied than men (p<0.001) and older subjects felt more satisfied than younger (p<0.01). Furthermore, light/no exercisers felt more satisfied and less hungry than hard/moderate exercisers (p<0.05), but these differences disappeared after adjusting for age and gender. Smokers rated their prospective consumption lower than non-smokers (p<005) and women in the ovulation phase felt less hungry than women in the menstruation phase (p<005). Neither BMI nor diet/weight concern were significantly associated with appetite ratings. Conclusions: Appetite ratings differed according to age, gender, and physical activity and to a lesser degree for smoking habits and menstruation cycle. Appetite ratings were not influenced by BMI and diet/weight concern. These factors should be considered when planning studies and analysing data concerning appetite sensations.

Keywords: appetite sensations; physiological determinants; psychological factors

(Published: 11 August 2011)

Citation: Food & Nutrition Research 2011. 55 7028 - DOI: 10.3402/fnr.v55i0.7028


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Gregersen N. T., Møller B. K., Raben A., Kristensen S. T., Holm L., Flint A., & Astrup A. (2011). Determinants of appetite ratings: the role of age, gender, BMI, physical activity, smoking habits, and diet/weight concern. Food & Nutrition Research. Retrieved from
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