Review article: the role of gastric motility in the control of food intake


  • This uncommissioned review article was subject to full peer-review.

Dr P. Janssen, KULeuven Campus Gasthuisberg O&N I, Department of Gastroenterology, Herestraat 49, Box 701, Leuven 3000, Belgium.


Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2011; 33: 880–894


Background  From a classical point of view, gastric motility acts to clear the stomach between meals, whereas postprandial motility acts to provide a reservoir for food, mixing and grinding the food and to assure a controlled flow of food to the intestines.

Aim  To summarise findings that support the role of gastric motility as a central mediator of hunger, satiation and satiety.

Methods  A literature review using the search terms ‘satiety’, ‘satiation’ and ‘food intake’ was combined with specific terms corresponding to the sequence of events during and after food intake.

Results  During food intake, when gastric emptying of especially solids is limited, gastric distension and gastric accommodation play an important function in the regulation of satiation. After food intake, when the stomach gradually empties, the role of gastric distension in the determination of appetite decreases and the focus will shift to gastric emptying and intestinal exposure of the nutrients. Finally, we have discussed the role of the empty stomach and the migrating motor complex in the regulation of hunger signals.

Conclusions  Our findings indicate that gastric motility is a key mediator of hunger, satiation and satiety. More specifically, gastric accommodation and gastric emptying play important roles in the regulation of gastric (dis)tension and intestinal exposure of nutrients and hence control satiation and satiety. Correlations between gastric accommodation, gastric emptying and body weight indicate that gastric motility can also play a role in the long-term regulation of body weight.