Predictors of Post-Exercise Energy Intake in Adolescents Ranging in Weight Status from Overweight to Severe Obesity

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Exercise may sensitize individuals with overweight and obesity to appetitive signals (e.g., hunger and fullness cues), overriding trait eating behaviors that contribute to overeating and obesity, such as uncontrolled eating. The objective of the current study was to measure predictors of objective ad libitum energy intake at a laboratory-based, post-exercise test-meal in adolescents ranging in weight status from overweight to severe obesity. We hypothesized that appetitive states, rather than appetitive traits, would be the strongest predictors of energy intake at a post-exercise test-meal, after controlling for body size. At Baseline, 30 adolescents (ages 10-16 years, 50% female (F), 43% non-Hispanic white (NHW), 83% with obesity (OB)) completed state and trait appetite measures and an ad libitum dinner meal following intensive exercise. Nineteen of those participants (47% F, 32% NHW, 79% OB) completed identical assessments two years later (Year 2). Energy intake (kcal) at each time point was adjusted for fat-free mass index (i.e., body size). Adjusted energy intake was reliable from Baseline to Year 2 (ICC = 0.84). Multiple pre-meal appetite ratings were associated with test-meal energy intake. In stepwise linear regression models, pre-meal prospective food consumption was the strongest and only significant predictor of test-meal energy intake at both Baseline (R = 0.25, = 0.005) and Year 2 (R = 0.41, = 0.003). Baseline post-exercise energy intake was associated with weight change over two years (R = 0.24, = 0.04), but not with change in fat mass ( = 0.11). Appetitive traits were not associated with weight or body composition change ( > 0.22). State appetite cues were the strongest predictors of post-exercise energy intake, independent of body size. Future studies should examine whether long-term exercise programs enhance responsiveness to homeostatic appetite signals in youth with overweight and obesity, with a goal to reduce excess energy intake and risk for weight gain over time.

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