Symptoms

Recognising hard-to-control hunger and obesity

How can you recognise hard-to-control 
hunger (hyperphagia)?

The signs of intense, hard-to-control hunger can vary from person to person.

In most cases, these can start from a very early age and can change as you get older.

People living with hard-to-control hunger may experience one or more of these signs. For some, these signs are constant. For others, they may happen from time to time. These signs may include:1,2

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Signs and symptoms of hard-to-control hunger (hyperphagia)
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Symptoms of hard to control hunger - taking a longer time to feel full while eating
Taking a longer time to feel full while eating
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Symptoms of hard to control hunger - feeling hungry again right after a meal
Feeling hungry again right after a meal
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Symptoms of hard to control hunger - thinking about food constantly
Thinking about food constantly
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Symptoms of hard to control hunger - food-seeking behaviour (sneaking or stealing food)
Food-seeking behaviour (sneaking or stealing food)
Some people may demonstrate food-seeking habits such as:
  • Arguing with or manipulating people to get food
  • Having tantrums to get food
  • Taking extreme measures such as stealing food
Hard-to-control hunger can affect many aspects of a person’s life:
  • Trouble focusing at school or work because food is always on their mind
  • Difficulty spending time with friends or family due to being constantly hungry
  • Experiencing mental health problems

Why is it important to manage hard-to-control hunger and obesity?

Hard-to-control hunger can contribute to people becoming very overweight, known as developing obesity.1 If left uncontrolled, obesity can lead to other serious health problems.3

Obesity is a serious health problem for anyone. However, people living with rare genetic causes of hard-to-control hunger and obesity may struggle with many other health issues, which can be made worse by obesity. That means it’s even more important to manage it from the start to help lessen the chance of serious issues later in life.

Health problems related to obesity can include:4

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart-related issues (heart attack and stroke)
  • Orthopaedic issues (problems with bones and muscles)

The importance of a healthy lifestyle

Even though genetic obesity has a root cause in the genes, it is still important to eat a healthy diet that is low in sugars and high in vegetables, whole grains and lean protein to help reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Physical activity, such as taking a walk, is another simple way to help reduce your risk. Speak to your doctor about how diet and exercise can fit into your lifestyle.4

Guidance and support

Use our discussion guide to find out more about what you can do to manage hard-to-control hunger.

Discussion guide

This guide has been developed to support you in preparing for an appointment with your doctor or nurse so that you can talk openly about the impact of hard-to-control hunger and obesity and work with them to agree on the best care plan possible.

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Discuss obesity with your doctor or nurse

References

1 Heymsfield SB, et al. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014; 22 Suppl 1(0 1):S1-S17

2 Forsythe E, et al. Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2023; 18(1): 12

3 Littleton SH, et al. Mol Diagn Ther. 2020; 24(6): 653-663

4 Obesity (2021) Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obesity/symptoms-causes/syc-20375742 (Accessed: March 27, 2023).