Difference Between Hunger and Appetite


Main Difference

The main difference between Hunger and Appetite is that Hunger needs to eat food, whereas Appetite is the desire to eat food.

Hunger vs. Appetite

Your body’s physical response to food is hunger. Your desire to eat food rather than your need to eat food is appetite. Whenever you feel hunger, you search for food because it is your body’s requirement, while appetite is to eat something to fulfill your desire. Hunger is related to an empty stomach; on the other hand, appetite is related to will.

Hunger includes some changes in the body, which compels a person to eat something; otherwise, the body will not function well. On the other side, appetite includes psychological reactions that attract a person towards food.


We can say, the automatic system that enforces you to take something to complete requirements of the body, is hunger, while they wish that urges you to have something because it is appealing and you have some room for it in your stomach, is appetite.

Comparison Chart

An uneasy feeling occasioned due to lack of food.A liking or desire for something; fondness
Gurgling, rumbling or growling in stomach, dizziness, headaches, nausea, etc.Its signs are Salivating and contraction in stomach muscles etc.
Cue From
Cue from bodyCue form brain
Need for bodyA luxury or a choice
Negative connotationPositive connotation
Innate behaviorLearned behavior
Reaction Towards
The physical reaction towards foodThe psychological reaction towards food
Cannot be ignoredCan be ignored
Necessary for survivalNot necessary to survive
Will cause physical discomfort and painDoes not cause physical discomfort or pain
Stomach hungerHeart hunger

What is Hunger?

Hunger, on a broader level, is a vast term for discussion. But in general, it is merely a bodily need. Which we have to fulfill or otherwise our body will not function as normal. In the last stage, our body could stop working as well. To understand what hunger is in general, we can take an example.

Hypothalamus in our brain controls hunger. It also controls our blood sugar level and tells how empty our stomach is. When we get a message from the brain, then we feel hungry and want to eat something to satisfy our hunger.

The practical example of hunger is when you have not eaten anything since morning, and now it’s time for lunch. Then your body will give you gestures that you must eat something essential, and you eat something. This will satisfy your hunger, and you will not be hungry anymore.

The term “hunger” is used in a sense that goes beyond the simple wish for meal or food, which is the need of all human beings. To feel hungry is a common phenomenon that we feel daily. Many people satisfy their hunger. On the other hand, many people suffer from chronic hunger because of lack of food. At this point, the simple term “hunger” comes on a broader level. Hunger could be of types are acute hunger, chronic hunger, hidden hunger.

What is Appetite?

Appetite is our liking for something. To be hungry is not necessary for this. We can understand this term with an example, such as, at the time of lunch, you feel hungry. So, you satisfy your hunger by eating something. After that, you find something appetizing like pizza, burger, daunts, etc. So, a desire arises in your heart to eat that. This is what we call appetite. That you have some space to take more food, although you are not hungry anymore.

Appetite could take as positive as well as a negative term. We often hear people talking about a healthy appetite when they talk about diet plans or something else. If we take a healthy appetite, then it is a positive term, and when we do not care about our appetite, then it will come in a negative sense. Points to keep appetite in check are eaten regularly, be patient, and eat slowly, check the volume of your food that you are taking, take a healthy meal, do not deprive yourself of what you love.

As we have talked about the part of the brain which gives signs of hunger, similarly, we have some hormones in our body that are involved in increasing or decreasing our appetite. These hormones are Leptin, which means decreases appetite. And Ghrelin, which means increases appetite.

Key Differences

  1. Hunger is a cue from your body, while appetite is a cue from your brain.
  2. Hunger is a bodily need, while appetite is a luxury or a choice.
  3. Usually, hunger is taken as a negative connotation; on the other hand, appetite is taken as a positive connotation.
  4. To satisfy hunger is necessary for survival, while appetite is not that necessary.
  5. To satisfy hunger is an innate behavior of humans, and to satisfy appetite is a learned behavior.
  6. Hunger is a physical reaction towards food, while appetite is a psychological reaction towards food.
  7. Hunger cannot ignore; on the other hand, appetite can easily ignore.
  8. Hunger will cause physical discomfort in your body or pain, while appetite does not do this.
  9. The signs of hunger include, gurgling, rumbling or growling, and signs of salivating, and contraction in stomach muscles are typical of appetite.


The innate behavior that urges you to eat something is Hunger, and the desire to have more food is Appetite.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson