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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Suggestion of new possibilities in approaching individual variability in appetite through constitutional typology: a pilot study

Junhee Lee1*, Jiwon Lee1, Hyunshang Shin1, Ki-Suk Kim2, Euiju Lee1, Byunghee Koh1 and Hyeung-Jin Jang2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Sasang Constitutional Medicine, College of Oriental Medicine, Kyung Hee University

2 Department of Biochemistry, College of Oriental Medicine, Kyung Hee University, #1 Heogi-dong, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul 130-701, Republic of Korea

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:122  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-122

Published: 13 August 2012



Appetite is intricately connected to eating behaviors and shows a high individual variability. In an attempt to approach the problem of gut hormone profiles, appetite, and eating behaviors at the individual level, we have adopted a constitutional typing system widely used in traditional East-Asian medicine, the Sasang constitutional typology, in order to determine the individual variations in appetite, eating behavior, and weight change.


This pilot study was designed to investigate the variability of appetite among individuals by tracking the gut hormone patterns across different constitutional types. Pre- and post-prandial concentrations of anorectic (peptide YY (PYY), glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1)) and orexigenic (active ghrelin) gut hormones were measured in healthy, normal-weight (18.5 kg/m2 ≤BMI <23 kg/m2) male subjects aged 20–35 (Soyang (SY) (n = 9), Taeeum (TE) (n = 9), and Soeum (SE) (n = 10) constitutional types).


Significant differences were found only in the PYY concentrations across the three groups (p = 0.031). The PYY concentration peaked at 30-min post-prandial in the SE group and was significantly higher compared to the other two groups (p = 0.004). The GLP-1 concentration peaked at 15-min post-prandial in the SE group (not significant). The ghrelin levels at 30-min pre-prandial were relatively lower in the TE group compared to the other groups (not significant).


In conclusion, although with weak statistical power, meaningful gut hormone patterns specific to each constitutional type were discovered in this pilot study, which could offer a new method of approaching the problem of appetite and eating behavior from the angle of individual variability in appetite.

Gut hormone; Appetite; Eating behavior; Sasang constitutional typology