A woman worried about food satiation looks at floating items of food above her head as an empty plate sits in front of her.

Managing a Major Symptom of Obesity: Low Satiation

If you have obesity, it was probably diagnosed by measuring your body mass index (BMI). Having a high amount of body fat, which is measured by BMI, is the main sign of obesity. But did you know that there are other signs and symptoms of obesity? It can help to identify the symptoms of obesity that you struggle with. That way you can make sure those symptoms are being managed properly.

Many symptoms of obesity are mistaken as a personality flaw. This is because obesity is widely misunderstood. And many symptoms of obesity are related to food and eating.

Many people I have treated assumed that eating is a simple choice and that eating less is an issue of will power. They are surprised when I explain that modern obesity science tells us otherwise. Eating is affected by complex biology, and it is a complicated behavior.

Not feeling full after a meal

Let’s take a look at one of the most common symptoms of obesity: low satiation. Satiation is how long you feel full, happy, and satisfied after a meal. If you have low satiation, you will be looking for your next meal very soon after you just ate. People with obesity can eat the same exact food as someone with a normal weight but not feel as full.

As food digests, fullness hormones that tell the brain, "slow down, stop eating," are released. And, the hormones that make us hungry go down just after we eat. But with obesity, that does not happen as usual.

After a meal, the "hungry" hormone ghrelin stays high in people with obesity. And people report that they still feel somewhat hungry after a meal. Plus, the hormone called peptide YY that triggers fullness is lower in people with obesity after a meal.1

Options to help manage fullness levels

Diet strategies

To manage this low satiation with obesity, some dietary strategies can help. Small, more frequent meals can help to manage hunger. Eggs may also help increase fullness and reduce later food consumption. Also, a high fiber diet may help. Fermentation of fiber in the gut triggers the release of fullness hormones after a meal.2-4

Weight loss medication and surgery

New weight loss medications that are now available increase fullness between meals. Bariatric surgery also increases fullness. Satiety and hunger hormones change in a helpful way after bariatric surgery. Both medications and surgery help with the low satiation experienced by people with obesity.5,6

It is not a weakness

Now you can recognize low satiation as a symptom of a condition. It is not a "weakness" or an issue of willpower. With this knowledge, I hope you can be proactive about addressing it. Try incorporating some fiber, eggs, and smaller more frequent meals into your diet. Be mindful of how you feel and if those diet changes help. If not, you can also talk with your doctor about medications and surgical options.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Obesity.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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