The effect of intranasal insulin on appetite and mood in women with and without obesity: an experimental medicine study

Elizabeth Schneider, Maartje S. Spetter, Elizabeth Martin, Elizabeth Sapey, Kay Por Yip, Konstantinos N. Manolopoulos, Abd A. Tahrani, Jason M. Thomas, Michelle Lee, Manfred Hallschmid, Pia Rotshtein, Colin T. Dourish, Suzanne Higgs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intranasal (IN) administration of insulin decreases appetite in humans, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear, and it is unknown whether IN insulin affects the food intake of women with obesity.

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design, participants (35 lean women and 17 women with obesity) were randomized to receive 160 IU/1.6 mL of IN insulin or placebo in a counterbalanced order in the post prandial state. The effects of IN insulin on cookie intake, appetite, mood, food reward, cognition and neural activity were assessed.

IN insulin in the post prandial state reduced cookie intake, appetite and food reward relative to placebo and these effects were more pronounced for women with obesity compared with lean women. IN insulin also improved mood in women with obesity. In both BMI groups, IN insulin increased neural activity in the insula when viewing food pictures. IN insulin did not affect cognitive function.

These results suggest that IN insulin decreases palatable food intake when satiated by reducing food reward and that women with obesity may be more sensitive to this effect than lean women. Further investigation of the therapeutic potential of IN insulin for weight management in women with obesity is warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1319–1327
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number7
Early online date9 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

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  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Appetite
  • Biomedical Research
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin/pharmacology
  • Obesity


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