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Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010 Jan 19;7:4. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-7-4.

Sustained self-regulation of energy intake. Loss of weight in overweight subjects. Maintenance of weight in normal-weight subjects.

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Unit of Preventive Gastroenterology, Department of Paediatrics, Università di Firenze, 50132 Florence, Italy.



Dietary restraint is largely unsuccessful for controlling obesity. As an alternative, subjects can easily be trained to reliably recognize sensations of initial hunger (IH) a set of physiological sensations which emerge spontaneously, not necessarily at planned mealtimes, and may be the afferent arm of a homeostatic system of food intake regulation. Previously we have reported that IH is associated with blood glucose concentration (BG) below 81.8 mg/dL (4.55 mmol/l), (low blood glucose, LBG), and that a pattern of meals in which IH is present pre-meal (IHMP) improved insulin sensitivity, HbA1c and other cardiovascular risk factors. Here we report the effect upon weight in overweight and normal weight subjects.


To investigate whether the IHMP is associated with sustained loss of weight in overweight subjects over a 5 month period.


SEVENTY FOUR OVERWEIGHT SUBJECTS (OW: BMI > 25) and 107 normal weight (NW) subjects were randomly allocated to either trained (OW: N = 51; NW N = 79) or control (OW: N = 23; NW: N = 28) groups. All subjects were allocated post-randomization into either low or high mean pre-meal BG groups (LBG and HBG groups) using a demarcation point of 81.8 mg/dL.


A SIGNIFICANT LONGITUDINAL DECREASE WAS FOUND IN BODY WEIGHT (TRAINED NW: -2.5 +/- 4.6 kg; OW -6.7 +/- 4.5 kg; controls: NW +3.5 +/- 4.0 kg and OW -3.4 +/- 4.0 kg; P = 0.006 and 0.029) and in energy intake, mean BG, standard deviation of diary BG (BG as recorded by subjects' 7-day diary), BMI, and arm and leg skin-fold thickness in (OW and NW) HBG subjects. OW LBG subjects significantly decreased body weight (trained: -4.0 +/- 2.4 kg; controls: -0.4 +/- 3.7 kg; P = 0.037). 26 NW LBG subjects showed no longitudinal difference after training as did 9 control subjects.


Over a 5 month period the IHMP resulted in significant loss of weight in OW subjects compared to controls practicing dietary restraint. NW subjects maintained weight overall, however NW HBG subjects also lost weight compared to controls.

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