Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Sensory and gastrointestinal satiety effects of capsaicin on food intake



Decreased appetite and increased energy expenditure after oral consumption of red pepper has been shown.


The aim of the present study was to assess the relative oral and gastrointestinal contribution to capsaicin-induced satiety and its effects on food intake or macronutrient selection.


For 24 subjects (12 men and 12 women; age: 35±10 y; BMI: 25.0±2.4 kg/m2; range 20–30), 16 h food intake was assessed four times during 2 consecutive days by offering macronutrient-specific buffets and boxes with snacks, in our laboratory restaurant. At 30 min before each meal, 0.9 g red pepper (0.25% capsaicin; 80 000 Scoville Thermal Units) or a placebo was offered in either tomato juice or in two capsules that were swallowed with tomato juice. Hunger and satiety were recorded using Visual Analogue Scales.


Average daily energy intake in the placebo condition was 11.5±1.0 MJ/d for the men and 9.4±0.8 MJ/d for the women. After capsaicin capsules, energy intake was 10.4±0.6 and 8.3±0.5 MJ/d (P<0.01); after capsaicin in tomato juice, it was 9.9±0.7 and 7.9±0.5 MJ/d, respectively (compared to placebo: P<0.001; compared to capsaicin in capsules: P<0.05). En % from carbohydrate/protein/fat (C/P/F): changed from 46±3/15±1/39±2 to 52±4/15±1/33±2 en% (P<0.01) in the men, and from 48±4/14±2/38±3 to 42±4/14±2/32±3 en% (P<0.01) in the women, in both capsaicin conditions. Satiety (area under the curve) increased from 689 to 757 mmh in the men and from 712 to 806 mmh in the women, both (P<0.01). Only in the oral exposure condition was the reduction in energy intake and the increase in satiety related to perceived spiciness.


In the short term, both oral and gastrointestinal exposure to capsaicin increased satiety and reduced energy and fat intake; the stronger reduction with oral exposure suggests a sensory effect of capsaicin.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 5


  1. Seidell JC . Obesity in Europe. Obes Res 1995; 3 (Suppl 2): 249s–259s.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Noppa H . Body weight change in relation to incidence of ischemic heart disease and change in risk factors for ischemic heart disease. Am J Epidemiol 1980; 111: 693–704.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Hubert HB, Feinleib M, McNamara PM, Castelli WP . Obesity as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease: a 26-year follow-up of participants in the Framingham Heart Study. Circulation 1983; 67: 968–977.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Kromhout D . Body weight, diet, and serum cholesterol in 871 middle-aged men during 10 years of follow-up (the Zutphen Study). Am J Clin Nutr 1983; 38: 591–598.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Goldstein DJ . Beneficial effects of modest weight loss. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 1992; 16: 397–415.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Wing RR, Jeffery RW, Burton LR, Thorson C, Kuller LH, Folsom AR . Change in waist–hip ration with weight loss and its association with change in cardiovascular risk factors. Am J Clin Nutr 1992; 55: 1086–1092 485.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Van Gaal LF, Wauters MA, De Leeuw IH . The beneficial effects of modest weight loss on cardiovascular risk factors. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 1997; 21: S5–S9.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Wadden TA, Stunkard AJ, Liebschutz J . Three-year follow-up of the treatment of obesity by very low calorie diet, behavior therapy, and their combination. J Consult Clin Psychol 1988; 56: 925–928.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Kramer FM, Jeffery RW, Forster JL, Snell MK . Long-term follow-up of behavioral treatment for obesity: patterns of weight regain among men and women. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 1989; 13: 123–136.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Pasman WJ, Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Muls E, Vansant G, Van Ree J, Saris WHM . The effectiveness of long-term fiber supplementation on weight maintenance in weight reduced women. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 1997a; 21: 548–555.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Pasman WJ, Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Saris WHM . The effectiveness of longterm supplementation of carbohydrate, chromium, fiber and caffeine on weight maintenance. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 1997b; 21: 1143–1151.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Pasman WJ, Saris WH, Westerterp-Plantenga MS . Predictors of weight maintenance. Obesity Res 1998; 7: 43–50.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Kempen KPG, Saris WHM . Determinants of weight maintenance in women after diet-induced weight reduction. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 1998; 22: 1–6.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Kawada T, Hagihara K, Iwai K . Effects of capsaicin on lipid metabolism in rats fed high fat diet. J Nutr 1986; 116: 1272–1278.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Kawada T, Sakabe S, Watanabe T, Yamamoto M, Iwai K . Some pungent principles of spices cause the adrenal medulla to secrete catecholamine in anesthesized rats. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1988; 188: 229–233.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Yoshioka M, Lim K, Kikuzato S, Kiyonaga A, Tanaka H, Shindo M, Suzuki M . Effects of red-pepper diet on the energy metabolism in men. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol 1995; 41: 647–656.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Yoshioka M, St-Pierre S, Suzuki M, Tremblay A . Effects of red pepper added to high-fat and high-carbohydrate meals on energy metabolism and substrate utilization in Japanese women. Br J Nutr 1998; 80: 503–510.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Yoshioka M, St-Pierre S, Drapeau V, Dionne I, Doucet E, Suzuki M, Tremblay A . Effects of red pepper on appetite and energy intake. Br J Nutr 1999; 82: 115–123.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Yoshioka M, Doucet E, Drapeau V, Dionne I, Tremblay A . Combined effects of red pepper and caffeine consumption on 24 h energy balance in subjects given free access to foods. Br J Nutr 2001; 85: 203–211.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Stunkard AJ, Messick S . The three factor eating questionnaire to measure dietary restraint, disinhibition and hunger. J Psychiat Res 1985; 29: 71–83.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  21. Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Rolland V, Wilson SAJ, Westerterp KR . Satiety related to 24 h diet-induced thermogenesis during high protein/carbohydrate vs high fat diets measured in a respiration chamber. Eur J Clin Nutr 1999; 53: 495–502.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  22. Craft RM, Porreca F . Treatment parameters of desensitization to capsaicin. Life Sci 1992; 51: 1767–1775.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  23. Rolls ET, Verhagen JV, Kadohisa M . Representations of the texture of food in the primate orbitofrontal cortex: neurons responding to viscosity, grittiness, and capsaicin. J Neurophysiol 2003; 90: 3711–3724.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Lim K, Yoshioka M, Kikuzato S, Kiyonaga A, Tanaka H, Shindo M, Suzuki M . Dietary red pepper ingestion increases carbohydrate oxidation at rest and during exercise in runners. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1997; 29: 355–361.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  25. Lejeune MPGM, Kovacs EMR, Westerterp-Plantenga MS . Effects of capsaicin on substrate oxidation and weight maintenance after modest body-weight loss in human subjects. Br J Nutr 2003; 90: 651–659.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. Melanson KJM, Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Campfield LA, Saris WHM . Appetite and blood-glucose profiles in humans isolated from time cues, following ingestion of fat, carbohydrate and aspartame preloads. Br J Nutr 1999; 82: 437–446.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. Mattes RD . Oral fat exposure increases the first phase triacylglycerol concentration due to release of stored lipid in humans. J Nutr 2002; 132: 3656–3662.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. Heath RB . Vagal stimulation exaggerates the inhibitory ghrelin response to oral fat in humans. J Endocrinol 2004; 180: 273–281.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. Matsumoto T, Miyawaki C, Ue H, Yuasa T, Miyatsuji A, Moritani T . Effects of capsaicin-containing yellow curry sauce on sympathetic nervous system activity and diet-induced thermogenesis in lean and obese young women. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol 2000; 46: 309–315.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. Kobata K, Sutoh K, Todo T, Yazawa S, Iwai K, Watanabe T . Nordihydrocapsiate, a new capsinoid from the fruits of a non-pungent pepper, Capsicum annuum. J Nat Prod 1999; 62: 335–336.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  31. Ohnuki K, Niwa S, Maeda S, Inoue N, Yazawa S, Fushiki T . CH-19 sweet, a non-pungent cultivar of red pepper, increased body temperature and oxygen consumption in humans. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 2001; 65: 2033–2036.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to M S Westerterp-Plantenga.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Westerterp-Plantenga, M., Smeets, A. & Lejeune, M. Sensory and gastrointestinal satiety effects of capsaicin on food intake. Int J Obes 29, 682–688 (2005).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


This article is cited by


Quick links