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The Water Load Test As a Measure of Gastric Interoception: Development of a Two-Stage Protocol and Application to a Healthy Female Population.

By Zoé van Dyck, Claus Vögele, Jens Blechert, Annika P C Lutz, André Schulz and Beate M Herbert


The sensitivity for one's own internal body signals (i.e., interoception) has been demonstrated to play an important role in the pathogenesis of eating and weight disorders. Most previous measures assessing interoceptive processing have not, or only partly, captured perception of hunger and satiety cues, which is a core aspect of interoceptive deficits in eating disorders. In addition, methods used to measure sensitivity to gastric signals are heterogeneous and findings inconsistent. The primary aim of the present study was to establish a standardised test to measure gastric interoception, and to provide normative data using a non-clinical adult sample. The two-step Water Load Test (WLT-II) involves ingestion of non-caloric water until perceived satiation (step 1) and until maximum fullness (step 2). The WLT-II consists of several variables: Besides volumes of water ingested until satiation and maximum fullness expressed in ml, percentage of satiation to maximum fullness is calculated as an individual index of gastric interoception that is not confounded with stomach capacity. Ninety-nine healthy women participated in the study. Measures included the WLT-II, the heartbeat tracking test, a self-report questionnaire assessing subjective sensations, and the Eating Disorder Inventory-2. Twenty-eight participants underwent test-retest of the WLT-II. Results suggest that the WLT-II is a valid and reliable measure of gastric interoception. Importantly, satiation volume and percentage of satiation to maximum fullness were strongly positively related to self-reported bulimic symptoms, indicating that the WLT-II could emerge as a useful clinical tool to measure interoceptive processing in the field of eating disorders

Topics: Medicine, R, Science, Q
Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
DOI identifier: 10.1371/journal.pone.0163574
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