Exercise Training Reduces Reward for High-Fat Food in Adults With Overweight/Obesity

Kristine Beaulieu; Mark Hopkins; Catherine Gibbons; Pauline Oustric; Phillipa Caudwell; John Blundell; Grahamfinlayson


Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2020;52(4):900-908. 

In This Article


In inactive individuals with overweight and obesity, a 12-wk exercise intervention reduced wanting scores for high-fat foods and trait binge eating relative to nonexercising controls. A reduction in trait disinhibition with exercise was apparent but to a lesser degree. The intervention improved body composition in the exercisers compared with the nonexercising controls. Taken together with previous work on the effect of physical activity on appetite, our cautious interpretation is that exercise training, in general, enhances appetite control through an effect on homeostatic and hedonic processes occurring around an eating episode and has an improved effect on more enduring eating behavior traits promoting overconsumption. Whether these trait effects are dependent on changes in body weight/composition remains to be fully understood. Furthermore, it cannot be claimed that such an improvement will be seen in all people undertaking exercise. The effects of exercise on the body are complex and involve simultaneous physiological adjustments. Effects should be treated cautiously, and our modest interpretation is that exercise has the potential to generate biological signals that cause adaptation to the dietary environment; this will be greater in some individuals than in others. Despite the degree of uncertainty in the outcomes, we feel that it is important to continue to attempt to understand a complicated situation and to openly debate the findings.