Rotating Question Curious About Astronomy? Ask an Astronomer

Does weightlessness affect hunger?

Recent studies have suggested that on earth, people tend to eat roughly the same weight of food every day, and that perhaps the weight of food (rather than volume) is the way your body determines when you're full/satisfied. My question is: Are astronauts always hungry in space since their stomachs do not register the weight of food in their stomach? Do they tend to eat more food--by weight--than they do on earth? What about on the space station when your body adjusts to zero-gravity? Do eating habits change then? Thanks for satisfying my curiosity. :)

Interesting question! I did some research online and here's what I came up with:

Hunger is caused by a combination of physiological and psychological components. There are a number of theories about both. They are summarized pretty well at this website.

As far as I can tell from researching the problem online, there isn't a lot of evidence that hunger is related to the weight of food in your stomach. This article mentions that astronauts often eat less than they normally would on the ground, but any connection between weightlessness and lack of hunger is not directly due to the weight of the food, but more likely due to other physiological effects. Also, astronauts are pretty busy, so it may just be that they don't think about eating as often when they are in space.

I hope this helps. I'm no expert on these things, but it is an interesting topic!

February 2007, Ryan Anderson (more by Ryan Anderson) (Like this Answer)

Still Curious?

Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:

More questions about Space Exploration and Astronauts: Previous | Next

How to ask a question:

If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.

Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist

URL: http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?number=716
This page has been accessed 11632 times since February 9, 2007.
Last modified: February 9, 2007 11:54:05 AM

Legal questions? See our copyright, disclaimer and privacy policy.
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.

Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)