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Appetite. 2007 Mar;48(2):199-205. Epub 2006 Nov 1.

Frequent feeding delays the gastric emptying of a subsequent meal.

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MRC Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, Fulbourn Road, Cambridge CB1 9NL, UK.


To assess the suitability of the 13C-octanoic acid breath test for measuring gastric emptying in circumstances other than the post-absorptive state, a preliminary study was performed where 6 hourly spaced isoenergetic meals preceded the determination of gastric emptying of a subsequent 2 MJ meal. Emptying was measured in three individuals on four separate occasions, with a reproducibility of 8%. A crossover study was then conducted to test the hypothesis that meal frequency can modulate the gastric emptying of a subsequent meal, with the potential to influence appetite regulation. Sixteen subjects were fed to energy balance, receiving food either as 2 isoenergetic meals 3 h apart or 6 isoenergetic meals fed hourly. Gastric emptying of a subsequent 2 MJ meal was investigated. Visual analogue scales were used throughout to assess appetite. The maximum rate of gastric emptying was unchanged but the onset of emptying was delayed by the more frequent feeding pattern. There was no significant difference in subjective appetite before or after the test meal. In conclusion, short-term increases in feeding frequency delayed the gastric emptying of a subsequent meal, but significant effects on post-meal appetite could not be demonstrated.

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