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Pre- and post- prandial appetite hormone levels in normal weight and severely obese women

Joseph J Carlson12*, Amy A Turpin1, Gail Wiebke3, Steven C Hunt4 and Ted D Adams45

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Nutrition, University of Utah, HPER North Room 213, SLC, UT 84112, USA

2 Division of Sports and Cardiovascular Nutrition, Departments of Radiology and Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University, MI 48824, USA

3 Department of Pediatrics, Division of Medical Genetics, University of Utah, 50 N. Medical Drive Rm 2C412, SLC, UT, 84132, USA

4 Cardiovascular Genetics Division, University of Utah, 420 Chipeta Way, Room 1160, SLC, UT, 84108, USA

5 Intermountain Health & Fitness Institute, Division of Cardiology at LDS Hospital, 8th Avenue and C Street, SLC, UT, 84143, USA

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Nutrition & Metabolism 2009, 6:32  doi:10.1186/1743-7075-6-32

Published: 11 August 2009



Appetite is affected by many factors including the hormones leptin, ghrelin and adiponectin. Ghrelin stimulates hunger, leptin promotes satiety, and adiponectin affects insulin response. This study was designed to test whether the pre- and postprandial response of key appetite hormones differs in normal weight (NW) and severely obese (SO) women.


Twenty three women ages 25–50 were recruited for this study including 10 NW (BMI = 23.1 ± 1.3 kg/m2) and 13 SO (BMI = 44.5 ± 7.1 kg/m2). The study was conducted in a hospital-based clinical research centre. Following a 12-hour fast, participants had a baseline blood draw, consumed a moderately high carbohydrate meal (60% carbohydrate, 20% protein, 20% fat) based on body weight. Postprandially, participants had six blood samples drawn at 0, 15, 30, 60, 90, and 120 minutes. Primary measures included pre- and post-prandial total ghrelin, leptin, adiponectin and insulin. A repeated measures general linear model was used to evaluate the hormone changes by group and time (significance p ≤ 0.05).


There were significant differences between the NW and the SO for all hormones in the preprandial fasting state. The postprandial responses between the SO versus NW revealed: higher leptin (p < 0.0001), lower adiponectin (p = 0.04), trend for lower ghrelin (p = 0.06) and insulin was not different (p = 0.26). Postprandial responses over time between the SO versus NW: higher leptin (p < 0.001), lower ghrelin and adiponectin (p = 0.004, p = 0.015, respectively), and trend for higher insulin (p = 0.06).


This study indicates that significant differences in both pre- and selected post- prandial levels of leptin, ghrelin, adiponectin and insulin exist between NW and SO women. Improving our understanding of the biochemical mechanisms accounting for these differences in appetite hormones among individuals with varying body size and adiposity should aid in the development of future therapies to prevent and treat obesity.