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Woman eating in front of the refrigerator at night

The dip in a person’s blood-sugar levels after breakfast provides a guide to calorie consumption at lunch, dinner and beyond. Credit: Getty

Metabolism

The easy test that predicts the size of your next few meals

One simple measurement provides a quantitative description of hunger.

The drop in a person’s blood-sugar levels a few hours after a meal predicts how much they’ll eat over the rest of the day, suggesting that hunger can be quantified.

Ana Valdes at the University of Nottingham, UK, and her colleagues followed the eating habits of 1,070 healthy adults in the United Kingdom and United States for 2 weeks. Study participants ate a set breakfast and then fasted for 3 hours, after which they ate as they chose. They wore sensors that continuously monitored their blood sugar levels and activity, and logged their meals and hunger levels in a mobile phone app.

Across the group, the drop in blood sugar levels 2–3 hours after breakfast corresponded with the size of the meals that participants ate over the next 24 hours, and matched their reported hunger levels. The authors say that the study, the largest of its kind, provides the best evidence yet that blood-sugar dips could be a possible biomarker for appetite.

However, the dips are just one part of the picture, they add, because appetite is known to be influenced by social, psychological and other factors.

More Research Highlights...

Camera-trap image of Dendrohyrax interfluvialis

Some tree hyraxes scream in the night, but the newly identified Dendrohyrax interfluvialis (above, camera-trap image) utters a complex series of squawks, rattles and barks. Credit: J. F. Oates et al./Zool. J. Linn. Soc.

Zoology

A bark in the dark reveals a hidden hyrax

Its neighbours scream, but a new species of tree hyrax — a cousin of the elephant — unleashes a rattling bark.
Plastic and other debris floats underwater in blue water

Plastic detritus from snacks and meals floats in the Red Sea. Marine sampling shows that food waste accounts for nearly 90% of plastic pollution at some locales. Credit: Andrey Nekrasov/Barcroft Media/Getty

Ocean sciences

Humanity’s fast-food habit is filling the ocean with plastic

Food bags, drink bottles and similar items account for the biggest share of plastic waste near the shore.
Conceptual artwork of a pair of entangled quantum particles.

An artist’s impression of ‘entangled’ particles, which share properties even at a distance. Entangled photons can be used to help secure a multi-party video meeting. Credit: Mark Garlick/Science Photo Library

Quantum information

Quantum keys dial up tamper-proof conference calls

A new experiment efficiently distributes the highly secure keys to four parties instead of the typical two.
Farmers harvest pineapples in a field.

Workers harvest pineapples in Lingao County, China. Less than one-third of the money spent on food eaten at home reaches farmers. Credit: Yuan Chen/VCG/Getty

Economics

Poor harvest: farmers earn a pitiful fraction of the money spent on food

The bulk of consumer food spending around the world ends up in the coffers of distributors, processors and other parties beyond the farm gate.
A woman wearing a protective face mask splashes her hands in a jet of water

A pedestrian seeks relief from searing temperatures in Spain, where a high proportion of heat-related deaths have been linked to climate change. Credit: SALAS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Climate change

More than one-third of heat deaths blamed on climate change

Warming resulting from human activities accounts for a high percentage of heat-related deaths, especially in southern Asia and South America.
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