Eating in the Absence of Hunger and Obesity Among Adolescents in Santiago, Chile

  • E. BlancoEmail author
  • M. Reyes
  • R. Burrows
  • S. Gahagan
Original Paper


In reports among mostly, US, white, preschool and young school-age children eating in the absence of hunger (EAH) has been positively related to adiposity, with some support for a sex-specific relationship. There is considerable interest in EAH and obesity in populations at risk for obesity—like populations of countries that have undergone rapid development. We assessed adolescents (n = 679) after an overnight fast with anthropometry and an EAH paradigm beginning with an ad lib pre-load meal. Participants reported satisfaction and perceived ability to eat more food, and then proceeded to a room with freely available snacks where they were permitted to eat ad lib for 20 min. Adolescents were 16.8 years old, 52% male, and 14% with obesity. Median preload meal kcal consumption was 602 (IQR 474–746). Additional calories were consumed at the EAH snack by 47.6%. Among those who ate snack, 155 additional calories were consumed (IQR 78–283). Adolescents with obesity had 0.61 (95% CI 0.37–0.99) reduced odds of eating at the EAH snack adolescents without obesity. Adolescents with obesity were also less likely to eat above the median total calories compared to adolescents without obesity (OR = 0.59, 95% CI 0.36–0.96). A sex by obesity interaction term was not significant in any model. Obesity was related to eating behavior in our sample of Chilean adolescents, however not in the direction we hypothesized. Adolescents with obesity were less likely to eat additional calories in the EAH paradigm and ate fewer total calories compared to adolescents without obesity.


Eating in the absence of hunger Obesity Adolescence Sex differences Chile Eating habits 



Eating in the absence of hunger


Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology


Author Contributions

SG, RB and MR designed the study and wrote the protocol. EB designed and conducted the statistical analysis, conducted literature searches and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All authors contributed to and have approved the final manuscript.


For this study was provided by the National Institutes of Health, Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (HL088530, PI: Gahagan) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD14122, PI: Lozoff and HD33487, MPI: Gahagan and Lozoff). NIH had no role in the study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of the data, writing the manuscript, or decision to submit the paper for publication.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interests.

Supplementary material

10900_2018_608_MOESM1_ESM.xls (372 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLS 371 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Child Development and Community Health, Department of PediatricsUniversity of CaliforniaLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.Public Health PhD ProgramUniversity of ChileIndependenciaChile
  3. 3.Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology (INTA)University of ChileMaculChile
  4. 4.Center for Human Growth and Development, Division of Child Behavioral HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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