Open Access Open Badges Methodology

Validation of a new hand-held electronic data capture method for continuous monitoring of subjective appetite sensations

Catherine Gibbons1*, Phillipa Caudwell1, Graham Finlayson1, Neil King2 and John Blundell1

Author Affiliations

1 Biopsychology Group, Institute of Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

2 Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2011, 8:57  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-8-57

Published: 8 June 2011



When large scale trials are investigating the effects of interventions on appetite, it is paramount to efficiently monitor large amounts of human data. The original hand-held Electronic Appetite Ratings System (EARS) was designed to facilitate the administering and data management of visual analogue scales (VAS) of subjective appetite sensations. The purpose of this study was to validate a novel hand-held method (EARS II (HP® iPAQ)) against the standard Pen and Paper (P&P) method and the previously validated EARS.


Twelve participants (5 male, 7 female, aged 18-40) were involved in a fully repeated measures design. Participants were randomly assigned in a crossover design, to either high fat (>48% fat) or low fat (<28% fat) meal days, one week apart and completed ratings using the three data capture methods ordered according to Latin Square. The first set of appetite sensations was completed in a fasted state, immediately before a fixed breakfast. Thereafter, appetite sensations were completed every thirty minutes for 4h. An ad libitum lunch was provided immediately before completing a final set of appetite sensations.


Repeated measures ANOVAs were conducted for ratings of hunger, fullness and desire to eat. There were no significant differences between P&P compared with either EARS or EARS II (p > 0.05). Correlation coefficients between P&P and EARS II, controlling for age and gender, were performed on Area Under the Curve ratings. R2 for Hunger (0.89), Fullness (0.96) and Desire to Eat (0.95) were statistically significant (p < 0.05).


EARS II was sensitive to the impact of a meal and recovery of appetite during the postprandial period and is therefore an effective device for monitoring appetite sensations. This study provides evidence and support for further validation of the novel EARS II method for monitoring appetite sensations during large scale studies. The added versatility means that future uses of the system provides the potential to monitor a range of other behavioural and physiological measures often important in clinical and free living trials.

This study was registered as a clinical trial by Current Controlled Trials (Registration Number - ISRCTN47291569).