Overcoming “Hedonic Hunger” Helps Lose Weight
Appetite may be linked to outside cues such as the sight of tasty treats or the smell of bread baking – a phenomenon researchers call “hedonic hunger,” which may in turn affect one’s ability to lose weight. Patrick O’Neil, a professor and director of the weight management center at the Medical University of South Carolina, led a study which involved 111 men and women ages 25 to 65 who were obese, with a body mass index (BMI, a measure of body fat) greater than 30.
The participants underwent a three-month Weight Watchers program, which included weekly group meetings and regular weigh-in. They were asked to keep food diaries and to walk daily.
The volunteers were also asked to fill out questionnaires before they started the program. The Power of Food Scales questionnaire measured their hedonic hunger, which asked them to agree or disagree with statements like, “I find myself thinking about food even when I’m not physically hungry” and “If I see or smell a food I like, I get a powerful urge to have some.” A second questionnaire looked at the dieters’ behaviors to control their eating, such as leaving food on the plate and snacking on fresh vegetables.
At the end of 12 weeks they were asked to answer the same questionnaires. It was noted that a decrease in hedonic hunger as reflected by their Power of Food Scales total score was associated with greater percentage of weight loss. The single best indicator of weight loss was having better control of eating even when they merely thought about a food, according to the researchers.
Fox, M. Key to dieting: Keep treats out of sight. MSN.