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The importance of fat-free mass and constituent tissue-organs in the control of human appetite.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Traditional models of human appetite focus on the contribution of adipose tissue and the gastrointestinal tract, both of which exert mainly inhibitory influences. The purpose of this review is to consider the biological factors that influence the drive to eat.

RECENT FINDINGS: Fat-free mass is positively associated with objectively measured meal size and daily energy intake. These findings have been replicated in multiple populations across the life-course in laboratory and free-living studies. Studies have shown that the effect of fat-free mass is statistically mediated by resting metabolic rate, suggesting that energy expenditure per se may influence energy intake. A recent MRI study has reported that fasting hunger was associated with high metabolic rate organ (heart, liver, brain, kidneys) and skeletal muscle mass. Integrating measures of body composition at the tissue-organ level and markers of their metabolic function with appetitive measures could provide novel insight into the mechanisms that influence appetite.

SUMMARY: These recent findings suggest that fat-free mass and resting metabolic rate are determinants of energy intake. Consideration of fat-free mass and energy expenditure as physiological sources of appetitive signals helps reconcile the mechanisms underpinning the inhibition of eating with those that drive eating.

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