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Associations between hedonic hunger and BMI during a two-year behavioural weight loss trial.

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Boyland, Emma J 
Christiansen, Paul 
Halford, Jason CG 
Jebb, Susan A 


OBJECTIVE: Prospective studies on relationships between hedonic hunger and BMI (Body Mass Index) during weight management are lacking. This study examined if hedonic hunger reduced during a behavioural weight management programme, and if hedonic hunger predicted future BMI. METHODS: Participants were 594 community-dwelling, UK-based adults(396 female; age 56.43 years, s.d. = 12.50, range 20-83 years); 490 participants (82.5%) had obesity. Participants were randomised to a 12- or 52-week behavioural weight management intervention (WW12 or WW52, respectively) or a brief self-help intervention (BI). Relationships between hedonic hunger and BMI over 24 months (baseline, 3, 12, 24 months) were analysed using an autoregressive cross-lagged model. RESULTS: Hedonic hunger scores decreased from 2.71 (s.d. = .91) at baseline to 2.41 (s.d. = .88) at 3 months (p < .001, CI .22 to .38), remained reduced to 24 months, and were not affected by intervention arm at any time point (p's>.05). Baseline hedonic hunger scores predicted 3-month scores (B = .76, SE = .03, p < .001, CI .71 to .82), 3-month scores predicted 12-month scores (B = .76, SE = .03, p < .001 CI .72 to .80), and 12-month scores predicted 24-month scores (B = .72, SE = .03, p < .001, CI .64 to .77). Higher hedonic hunger at 3 months predicted higher BMI at 12 months (B = .04, SE = .02, p = .03, CI .01 to .07) but not at 24 months (p>.05). BMI at 12 months was lower in WW52 30.87kg/m2, s.d. = 5.02) than WW12 (32.12 kg/m2, s.d. = 5.58, p = .02, CI .16 to 2.34) and BI (32.74 kg/m2, s.d. = 4.15, p = .01, CI .30 to 3.45). BMI was not affected by intervention at any other time point (p's>.05). CONCLUSION: Hedonic hunger reduced during weight management irrespective of intervention. Early reductions in hedonic hunger appear to be associated with lower BMI in the medium-term. Identifying ways to reduce hedonic hunger during weight loss could aid weight management for some people.



Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Body Mass Index, Female, Humans, Hunger, Male, Middle Aged, Obesity, Time Factors, Weight Loss, Weight Reduction Programs, Young Adult

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PLoS One

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Public Library of Science (PLoS)
MRC (MC_UU_00006/6)
MRC (unknown)
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12015/4)
Department of Health (via National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)) (RP-PG-0216-20010)
The WRAP trial was funded by the National Prevention Research Initiative ( research grant MR/J000493/1. ALA is supported by the Medical Research Council (grant MC_UU_12015/4; MC_UU_00006/6). BRM has received funding to their institution from WW (formerly Weight Watchers International) and UKRI and for her PhD studentship. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.