The effects of hypoxia on hunger perceptions, appetite-related hormone concentrations and energy intake: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Jamie Matu, Javier Gonzalez, Theocharis Ispoglou, Lauren Duckworth, Kevin Deighton

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6 Citations (Scopus)
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Exposure to hypoxia appears to depress appetite and energy intake, however the mechanisms are not fully understood. The aim of this review was to determine the magnitude of changes in hunger and energy intake in hypoxic compared with normoxic environments, and establish any alterations in appetite-related hormone concentrations. PubMed and The Cochrane Library as well as MEDLINE, SPORTDiscus, PsycINFO and CINAHL, via EBSCOhost, were searched through 1st April 2017 for studies that evaluated hunger, energy intake and/or appetite-related hormones in normoxia and during hypoxic exposure in a within-measures design. A total of 28 studies (comprising 54 fasted and 22 postprandial comparisons) were included. A random-effects meta-analysis was performed to establish standardised mean difference (SMD) with 95% confidence intervals. Hypoxic exposure resulted in a trivial but significant decrease in postprandial hunger scores (SMD: −0.15, 95% CI: −0.29 to −0.01; n = 14; p = 0.043) and a moderate decrease in energy intake (SMD: −0.50, 95% CI: −0.85 to −0.15; n = 8; p = 0.006). Hypoxic exposure resulted in a decrease (albeit trivial) in postprandial acylated ghrelin concentrations (SMD: −0.16, 95% CI: −0.25 to −0.08; n = 7; p < 0.0005), and a moderate increase in fasted insulin concentrations (SMD: 0.41, 95% CI: 0.17 to 0.65; n = 34; p = 0.001). Meta-regression revealed a decrease in postprandial acylated ghrelin concentrations (p = 0.010) and an increase in fasted insulin concentrations (p = 0.020) as hypoxic severity increased. Hypoxic exposure reduces hunger and energy intake, which may be mediated by decreased circulating concentrations of acylated ghrelin and elevated insulin concentrations. PROSPERO registration number: CRD42015017231.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-108
Number of pages11
Early online date31 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018



  • Altitude
  • Appetite
  • Ghrelin
  • Insulin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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