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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2008 Mar;102(5):601-8. Epub 2007 Dec 19.

Periprandial changes of the sympathetic-parasympathetic balance related to perceived satiety in humans.

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TI Food and Nutrition (WCFS), Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Food intake regulation involves various central and peripheral mechanisms. In this study the relevance of physiological responses reflecting the autonomic nervous system were evaluated in relation to perceived satiety. Subjects were exposed to a lunch-induced hunger-satiety shift, while profiling diverse sensory, physiological, and biochemical characteristics at 15 min intervals. Sensory ratings comprised questionnaires with visual analogues scales about their feeling of satiety, desire to eat, fullness, and hunger. Physiological characteristics included heart rate, heart rate variability, and blood pressure, while biochemical markers such as cortisol levels and alpha-amylase activity were monitored in saliva. The four sensory ratings correlated with heart rate and salivary alpha-amylase suggesting a higher sympathetic tone during satiety. Furthermore, heart rate variability was associated with age and waist-to-hip ratio and cortisol levels negatively correlated with body mass index. Finally, neither chewing nor swallowing contributed to a heart rate increase at food consumption, but orosensory stimulation, as tested with modified sham feeding, caused a partial increase of heart rate. In conclusion, after meal ingestion critical physiological alterations reveal a elevated sympathetic tone, which is a potential measure of satiety.

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