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Physiol Behav. 2005 Dec 15;86(5):614-22. Epub 2005 Oct 12.

Resistance and susceptibility to weight gain: individual variability in response to a high-fat diet.

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Institute of Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK.


An obesigenic environment is a potent force for promoting weight gain. However, not all people exposed to such an environment become obese; some remain lean. This means that some people are susceptible to weight gain (in a weight-promoting environment) and others are resistant. Identifying the characteristics of appetite control and food motivation in these two groups could throw light on the causes of weight gain and how this can be either treated or prevented. We have investigated the issue experimentally by identifying people who habitually consume a high-fat diet (greater than 43% fat energy). These individuals have been termed high-fat phenotypes. We have compared individuals, of the same age (mean=37 years old) and gender (male), who have gained weight (BMI=34) or who have remained lean (BMI=22). The susceptible individuals are characterised by a cluster of characteristics including a weak satiety response to fatty meals, a maintained preference for high-fat over low-energy foods in the post-ingestive satiety period, a strong hedonic attraction to palatable foods and to eating, and high scores on the TFEQ factors of Disinhibition and Hunger. The analysis of large databases suggests that this profile of factors contributes to an average daily positive energy balance from food of approximately 0.5 MJ. This profile of characteristics helps to define the symptomatology of a thrifty phenotype.

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