Feeling full and being full : how gastric content relates to appetite, food properties and neural activation

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Aim: This thesis aimed to further determine how gastric content relates to subjective experiences regarding appetite, how this relation is affected by food properties and whether this is visible in neural activation changes.

Method: This was studied using questionnaires, MRI of the stomach and fMRI of the brain. Randomized, controlled crossover experiments with healthy men and for one experiment women were performed.

Results: MRI measurements of the stomach as opposed to an indirect measurement by proxy, such as 13C breath testing are to be preferred. We show that gastric emptying is affected by energy load, and to a much smaller extent by viscosity. Additionally we show that a thick shake containing 100 kcal will yield higher fullness sensations than a thin shake containing 500 kcal. In the chapter we name this phenomenon ‘phantom fullness’, i.e., a sense of fullness and satiation caused by the taste and mouthfeel of a food which is irrespective of actual stomach fullness. A liquid meal followed by a drink of water empties about twice as fast in the first 35 minutes compared to the same amount of water incorporated within the liquid meal. Using MRI we were able to show layering within the stomach and increased emptying of this watery layer. With 300mL of increased gastric content inducing distention, appetite was lowered. Ingestion led to significant changes in activation in the right insula and parts of the left and right inferior frontal cortices over time. Women retain significantly more fluid after a carbonated drink in their stomach than men. When comparing correlations between subjective ratings and intragastric liquid and gas and total gastric volume, nausea and fullness correlated strongest with the liquid fraction within the stomach, bloating strongest with total gastric volume.

Conclusion: There are marked differences betweengastric content and subjective experiences regarding appetite. Viscosity is a main driver of these differences. Combined gastric MRI and brain fMRI measurements need to be performed to understand this further.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • de Graaf, Kees, Promotor
  • Smeets, Paul, Co-promotor
  • Mars, Monica, Co-promotor
Award date22 Dec 2017
Place of PublicationWageningen
Print ISBNs9789463438124
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2017


  • appetite
  • appetite control
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • neurophysiology
  • brain


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