Hedonic hunger is increased in severely obese patients and is reduced after gastric bypass surgery

Bernd Schultes, Barbara Ernst, Britta Wilms, Martin Thurnheer, Manfred Hallschmid


BACKGROUND: Overeating as a pathogenetic hallmark of obesity may be promoted by an increase in hedonic hunger, ie, the drive to eat palatable foods in the absence of energy need. Gastric bypass surgery, which effectively reduces severe obesity, might also affect hedonic hunger.

OBJECTIVE: The objective was to assess hedonic hunger in severely obese patients with and without a history of gastric bypass surgery.

DESIGN: Severely obese patients who had not undergone gastric bypass surgery (n = 123), gastric bypass patients (n = 136), and nonobese control subjects (n = 110) were examined with the Power of Food Scale (PFS)--a questionnaire that reliably measures an individual's motivation to consume highly palatable foods.

RESULTS: Compared with nonobese control subjects, severely obese patients achieved markedly higher aggregated PFS scores and subdomain scores related to generally available as well as physically present foods (all P < 0.001). On the aggregated score as well in those 2 subdomains, gastric bypass patients scored significantly lower than did non-gastric bypass obese patients (all P < 0.001) and did not differ significantly from the nonobese control group (P > 0.2). In contrast, in the PFS domain concerning food tasted, gastric bypass patients had significantly lower scores than did the nonobese control subjects (P = 0.04) and the severely obese patients (P = 0.008), both of whom did not differ significantly in this measure (P = 0.90).

CONCLUSION: In comparison with nonobese control subjects, severely obese patients display a marked increase in hedonic hunger that is not observed in patients who have undergone gastric bypass surgery, suggesting that the operation normalizes excessive appetite for palatable foods, which may be an important pathophysiologic feature of severe obesity.

ZeitschriftAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Seiten (von - bis)277-83
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 08.2010


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