British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Metabolism and Metabolic Studies

Early growth and postprandial appetite regulatory hormone responses

Mia-Maria Peräläa1 c1, Eero Kajantiea1a2, Liisa M. Valstaa3a4, Jens J. Holsta5, Jaana Leiviskäa1 and Johan G. Erikssona1a6a7a8a9

a1 Department of Chronic Disease Prevention, The National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland

a2 Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Helsinki University Central Hospital, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

a3 Department of Lifestyle and Participation, The National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland

a4 European Food and Safety Authority, Data Collection and Exposure, Parma, Italy

a5 Department of Biomedical Sciences, NNF Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

a6 Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

a7 Unit of General Practice, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland

a8 Folkhälsan Research Center, Helsinki, Finland

a9 Vaasa Central Hospital, Vaasa, Finland


Strong epidemiological evidence suggests that slow prenatal or postnatal growth is associated with an increased risk of CVD and other metabolic diseases. However, little is known whether early growth affects postprandial metabolism and, especially, the appetite regulatory hormone system. Therefore, we investigated the impact of early growth on postprandial appetite regulatory hormone responses to two high-protein and two high-fat content meals. Healthy, 65–75-year-old volunteers from the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study were recruited; twelve with a slow increase in BMI during the first year of life (SGI group) and twelve controls. Subjects ate a test meal (whey meal, casein meal, SFA meal and PUFA meal) once in a random order. Plasma glucose, insulin, TAG, NEFA, ghrelin, peptide tyrosine-tyrosine (PYY), glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide, glucagon-like peptide-1 and a satiety profile were measured in the fasting state and for 4 h after each test meal. Compared with the controls, the SGI group had about 1·5-fold higher insulin responses after the whey meal (P= 0·037), casein meal (P= 0·023) and PUFA meal (P= 0·002). TAG responses were 34–69 % higher for the SGI group, but only the PUFA-meal responses differed significantly between the groups. The PYY response of the SGI group was 44 % higher after the whey meal (P= 0·046) and 115 % higher after the casein meal (P= 0·025) compared with the controls. No other statistically significant differences were seen between the groups. In conclusion, early growth may have a role in programming appetite regulatory hormone secretion in later life. Slow early growth is also associated with higher postprandial insulin and TAG responses but not with incretin levels.

(Received September 18 2012)

(Revised February 22 2013)

(Accepted February 22 2013)

(Online publication April 19 2013)

Key Words:

  • Postprandial responses;
  • Early growth;
  • Birth weight;
  • Appetite;
  • Incretin


c1 Corresponding author: M.-M. Perälä, fax +358 29 524 8661, email


  Abbreviations: CON group, control group; GIP, glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide; GLP-1, glucagon-like peptide-1; PYY, peptide tyrosine-tyrosine; SGI group, slow growth during infancy