Measurement of Appetite

Appetite is specific to foods, exhibits wide intersub-ject variability, and tends to decline for a specific food as that food is eaten, leading to selection of other foods. Appetite is therefore said by Le Magnen to be sensory specific. The sensory specificity of appetite has been shown to relate inter alia to the postingestive consequences (satiation and satiety) of having ingested a food. The most objective measure of appetite for a given food in a specific experimental situation is therefore the amount of that food that a subject chooses to eat. Appetite is not rigidly determined by physiological signals per se, although they may greatly influence it. Both the palatability of a food and the appetite for it tend to co-vary and are often increased subsequent to a period of negative energy balance. Two examples are dieting and illness, both of which lead to lowered intake and a subsequent rebound in appetite. As discussed above the appetite for a food will be learned on the basis of the consequences of having ingested that food on previous eating occasions. Because of this it is possible to use covertly manipulated foods to deceive subjects into behaving in a manner largely determined by prior learned experience. If this were not so such deception would be impossible because the physiological signals produced by the sensorially similar yet nutritionally different food would immediately translate (through physiological signals) into behavioral compensation. This fact has implications for consumers since food technology can now dissociate the sensory and nutritional properties of foods, which may undermine the learned basis of food intake control in some people.

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