Gut-Cued Eating for Weight Loss: A Preliminary Proof-of- Concept Study

*Mary M Boggiano
Department Of Psychology, The University Of Alabama At Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, United States

*Corresponding Author:
Mary M Boggiano
Department Of Psychology, The University Of Alabama At Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, United States

Published on: 2021-08-24


Background: Despite numerous weight-loss programs (WLPs), obesity rates continue escalating. For many, WLPs are unsustainable due to their high time, dietary, and financial demands. Stomach sensation awareness is included in some WLPs but has not been evaluated in isolation.

Aim: To test the effect of a simple stomach/hunger-cued intervention, “Gut-Cued Eating” (GCE), on body weight.

Methods: N=31 adults with a BMI>26.9 watched a video explaining differences between mouth- and stomach-hunger and were asked to eat only when stomach-hungry and stop eating before overly full for eight weeks. Standardized and original questionnaires were administered.

Results: Weight decreased by 2.4 lb (range -4.0 to 11.6 lb; p=0.003). Greater median-split weight-loss participants lost a mean 5.5 lb; lower ones neither lost nor gained. Higher perceived stress and lower mindfulness predicted more weight loss. While no foods were banned, snack and sugary drink intake decreased.

Conclusion: Results provide proof-of-concept for GCE to reduce weight, meriting placebo-controlled investigations.


Obesity Treatment, Hedonic Hunger, Mindful Eating, Intuitive Eating, Hunger-Satiety Awareness, Intervention, Non-Homeostatic Eating


Obesity continues to be a leading cause of morbidity despite the existence of numerous weight-loss programs [1]. For many, these programs are unsustainable because they are too time-demanding, require radical departures from one’s customary diet, promote dependence vs. self-efficacy, and/or are too expensive [2-4]. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine if a very simple intervention dubbed “Gut-Cued Eating” (GCE) produced weight loss. GCE allowed participants to eat whatever, whenever, and as much as they wished, so long as they followed two instructions, to eat only when hungry and stop eating before feeling completely full. GCE is like other hunger/ satiety-guided approaches which have resulted in weight loss [5-12]. However, in these approaches, attention to stomach cues comprised only one part of a more complex program that included cognitive-behavioral or family-based strategies, exercise, diet modification, food logging, workbooks, group sessions, counseling, and other skills training. In contrast, GCE used hunger/satiety awareness alone as a weight-loss method. We hypothesized that:

  • Participants would lose weight after GCE;
  • Level of hunger before eating would be greater and level of fullness when eating stopped would be less; and
  • Eating patterns would shift to more regular meals and fewer snacks, sweet drinks, and desserts.
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