Appetite and weight change – how are they related to each other?


Overeating or, conversely, limited food intake is not always the root cause of deviations from the ideal mass. Often obese people have decreased appetite, and some people with normal or underweight people have a good appetite.

Weight control – appetite control

People who are prone to obesity spend less energy to carry out normal physiological functions. The hypothalamic center of appetite regulation in these people is set too high.


However, excess nutrition in comparison with the expenditure of energy is the main reason for the deviation of body weight from the ideal – both during intrauterine life and during all periods of a person’s life. During a meal, the feeling of satiety arises reflexively as a result of chewing movements, stimulation of receptors in the nose, mouth, pharynx and esophagus, as well as mechanoreceptors in the stomach. After eating, the feeling of satiety arises as a result of stimulation of the chemoreceptors of the gastrointestinal tract, irritation of the centers of hunger and satiety in the brain.

Feeling hungry is closely related to the level of glucose in the blood and its availability to cells. However, human eating behavior is determined not only by this: it is also associated with the time elapsed after the next meal, energy expenditure. Appetite is not a necessary part of feeling hungry. It can occur on its own: sometimes during meals, and often in anticipation of a favorite dish. Appetite is caused by a deficiency in the body of a certain substance. An eating disorder often reflects an individual’s predilection for a particular food, either congenital or parenting.

Overfed and hungry children – which is worse?

We have already said that eating behavior is formed in childhood, often during the neonatal period. The feeling of hunger is an inborn unconditioned reflex. The hungry baby cries and the mother feeds him immediately. The feeling of hunger dulls, and the child calms down. However, if the mother always feeds the child when he cries, without considering the reasons, then a conditioned reflex is formed in him, which can be called “seizing” of anxiety.

Negative emotions are just as unpleasant as hunger. They induce an appetite. If the need for affection, attention and communication in a child is replaced by food, and it becomes a source of calming, then subsequently any negative conditions will be removed with the help of increased food intake.


For a child, food is a symbol of love and security. Eating style reflects the emotional needs and state of mind of a person. At the mother’s breast, the child feels loved and protected. In the process of feeding, he relaxes, and this pleasant sensation in the future can determine his feeding behavior.

Older children often make up for their loneliness and abandonment with food. The child eats even when there is no appetite, only to arouse the mother’s gratitude. Parents often use food as a reward. If the child is behaving well, then he is given something “tasty” – the food in this case becomes a reward. If the baby does not behave the way the parents want, then he is deprived of sweets, that is, food is used as a punishment. As a result, the child begins to perceive the refusal of food as deprivation of the only joy. Subsequently, it will be difficult for him to learn to perceive refusal to eat as encouragement, and overeating as punishment.

Obesity nutrition and psychological problems

Pathological eating behavior often develops in adulthood as well. At the first stage, psychological dependence develops, and at the second, physiological.

Imagine that you really like a certain product, for example, a cake, and you want to eat it again – this is a psychological addiction. You buy it again and again, and then you feel that without this cake the evening will be ruined, and again you go to the store – this is already a physiological dependence. The cake ceases to be a source of pleasure, but becomes a need that must be satisfied. The habit of drinking sweet tea and using a lot of salt is also formed.

Eating behavior can be significantly disturbed in cases of psychosis and neuroses. Eating too much or not eating too much can be a protest when difficulties arise in other areas of life.

It has long been known that many widows suddenly begin to gain “extra” weight. 30% of people experience an increase in appetite in response to stress. In overweight people, this phenomenon occurs 1.5 times more often. The feeling of anxiety prompts you to approach the refrigerator more often, and even in those cases when the anxiety is not justified by anything. Depression, violation of the usual way of life can cause a desire to relieve tension, get rid of anxiety. This is where the danger of deviation from the ideal mass lurks – either in connection with overeating, or in connection with a complete rejection of food. Often the reason for overeating is boring work, monotonous life, lack of new experiences and joys.

This process is accompanied by the development of physical inactivity, laziness, unwillingness to do anything. Excessive nutrition in obesity and physical inactivity contribute to an increase in body weight. If a person once already had “excess” weight, then psychological reasons will return him to his previous state.


Often, “fashionable diets” that do not give an effect lead to despondency, displeasure, a feeling of hopelessness, in a word – to depression, accompanied by anorexia nervosa – a violation of appetite. Often there is a complete rejection of food, which leads to degeneration, sometimes very severe. Treating anorexia nervosa is difficult. Eating and even talking about it often ends in tears. Eating causes heaviness in the stomach during and after eating, belching, nausea, and when overeating – vomiting, which brings relief. Patients develop flatulence (gas formation), there is no independent chair. The treatment of such patients is very difficult. It requires the participation of not only a nutritionist, but also a psychotherapist.

Eating behavior is a complex emotional and psychological process in which many structures of the brain are involved. Therefore, with the psychological correction of such behavior, one should act carefully and extremely tactfully, since this is an introduction into the inner world of a person, into his intimate sphere of psychological comfort and personal preferences.

Food causes the brain to release endorphins, hormones similar to drugs. It creates a sense of calmness, relaxation, comfort. This happens especially often with those people who developed a conditioned reflex of “seizing anxiety” in childhood. Often there is a need to “seize” anxiety with carbohydrate products – sweets, chocolate. The so-called carbohydrate thirst develops – some nutritionists call it “carbohydrate addiction.” Craving for sweets often accompanies depressive, anxiety states.

If you are accustomed to eating more than required, if you are accustomed to eating to encourage yourself, if you are accustomed to eating when cats are scratching your soul, then you can no longer rely on the signals of your body. If we eat in a certain situation automatically, then it is enough to imagine this situation, how the need for food arises.


How to change your eating behavior? How do we become habitually gluttonous as a result of repetitive meals in certain situations? All this should be analyzed, and a clear goal set: abstaining from food should become a natural and normal habit, the same as the current habit of satisfying your need for food, which arises automatically.

Abbas Jahangir

I am a researcher and writer with a background in food and nutritional science. I am the founder of, our reputable online platform offering scientifically-backed articles on health, food, nutrition, kitchen tips, recipes, diet, and fitness. With a commitment to providing accurate and reliable information, we strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle choices. Join us on's journey toward a healthier and happier lifestyle.

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