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Hedonic Hunger: Eating for desire and Not Calories

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Hedonic hunger can be described as a state where an individual experiences recurrent feelings, thoughts, and desires about food in the absence of energy deprivation. Living in an obesogenic environment where cheap, tasty foods are available in plentiful amounts is one of the major causes of hedonic hunger development. Hedonic hunger can be analyzed using a power of food scale (PFS) which estimates appetite and not palatable food consumption. The current epidemic of obesity globally (termed as "globesity" by WHO) is seen to be majorly driven by the hedonic eating system and an imbalance in the energy homeostasis system. Previous studies indicate that hedonic hunger and obesity are associated, and a weak but no significant correlation exists between BMI and PFS score. It can lead to the development of various lifestyle disorders in the longer run. High levels of pleasure-driven hunger can even lead to detrimental health outcomes like poor glycaemic control, unhealthy dietary behavior, and increased lipid profile levels which are aggravated explicitly in cardiovascular diseases. With the adaptation to western dietary lifestyle, people are keener to opt for food options that can be damaging and harmful when low levels of self-control, dietary motivation, and healthy dietary habits are absent. Apart from the reward regulation system, which has a direct effect on hedonic hunger, certain external factors like emotional eating, meals and meal preparation, food cravings, sleep, physical activity, stress, social media, portion size, peer influence, an atmosphere of a restaurant can also promote more than required intake of food. This review article summarizes the above findings taking into account the plethora of research studies conducted so far.


Margi Mankad, Devaki Gokhale. Hedonic Hunger: Eating for desire and Not Calories. Cardiometry; Issue 20; November 2021; p.160-166; DOI: 10.18137/cardiometry.2021.20.160166; Available from:


Hedonic hunger,  Reward,  Obesogenic environment,  Obesity,  Palatable foods,  Food intake
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