British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Short-term appetite control in response to a 6-week exercise programme in sedentary volunteers

Catia Martinsa1, Helen Trubya1 and Linda M. Morgana1 c1

a1 Division of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Science, School of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, University of Surrey Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH UK


Previous cross-sectional studies have shown that sedentary males, unlike their active counterparts, are unable to compensate for previous energy intake (EI). The present study therefore investigated the effects of a 6-week moderate exercise programme (4 times per week, 65–75 % maximal heart rate) on appetite regulation in healthy sedentary volunteers using a longitudinal design. EI at a buffet meal 60 min after high-energy (HEP; 607 kcal) and low-energy (LEP; 246 kcal) preloads, together with 24 h cumulative EI, were measured in twenty-five healthy volunteers (eleven men; mean age 30 (SD 12) years, mean BMI 22·7 (SD 2·3) kg/m2), at baseline and after the exercise intervention. Subjective hunger and fullness were assessed throughout using visual analogue scales. ANOVA showed a significant preload ×  exercise interaction on 24 h cumulative EI, supporting an improvement in appetite control over this time period with the exercise programme. There was a trend towards improvement in energy compensation over the same period (8·9 (SD 118·5) % v. 79·5 (SD 146.·4) %; P = 0·056). No preload ×  exercise interaction was observed for buffet EI. Secondary analysis, however, showed that although buffet EI after the two preloads was not significantly different at baseline, buffet EI after the HEP was significantly lower than after the LEP following the exercise intervention. The improvement in short-term appetite control with exercise was not explained by changes in subjective hunger or satiety. This longitudinal study supports the original cross-sectional findings and suggests that exercise may have a significant impact on short-term appetite control by leading to a more sensitive eating behaviour in response to previous EI. Further studies are needed to clarify the mechanisms involved.

(Received August 03 2006)

(Revised March 07 2007)

(Accepted March 22 2007)


c1 Corresponding author:Dr L. M. Morgan, fax +44 1483 686401, email


Abbreviations: EI, energy intake; HEP, high-energy preload; LEP, low-energy preload; VAS, visual analogue scale