Created By: Clevomon on June 24, 2013 Last Edited By: XFllo on September 26, 2015

Appetite Equals Health

Having no appetite means the character is ill. Being hungry means they are healthy.

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NOTE: This trope now has a crowner. Please go here to vote.

In fiction, if you're hungry, that means you're healthy. Conversely, if it's noted that you have no appetite, there's a good chance that you're sick. This has a basis in reality, as there are many diseases that cause lack of appetite as a symptom (although there are also quite a few that have Inappropriate Hunger as a symptom as well). It's also a good sign since, presumably, if your mind's free enough to worry about your stomach, it might not be consumed with other problems (such as other types of discomfort).

Not to Be Confused with Hyperactive Metabolism, which is a video game dynamic that takes the ideas behind this and extend them to unrealistic levels. This is a trope about character interactions in which having an appetite or a lack thereof indicates something about a character's present state.

Compare Forgets to Eat, where a lack of appetite indicates obsessive interest in a topic, rather than (or at least not necessarily) ill health.


Examples

Comic Books
  • In Astérix, Obelix gets this in conjunction with OOC Is Serious Business:
    Getafix: Did he eat anything?
    Asterix: Two boars.
    Getafix: Right, he didn't eat anything.

Film - Live-Action
  • Early in Gone with the Wind, Mammy brings Scarlett a tray with food before the O'Haras leave for the Wilkes' barbecue; Mammy insists Scarlett shouldn't be seen eating much at the party to maintain a ladylike appearance. Scarlett initially refuses the food because, in her words, "Ashley said he likes to see a girl with a healthy appetite.''

Literature
  • In Emma, Miss Jane Fairfax is something of an Ill Girl with shattered health and she's also depressed because Love Hurts. Her doting aunt Miss Bates is worried constantly about the small amounts of food she eats.
  • In the fifth book of the Sword of Truth series, Zedd claims he is fine, but then immediately goes on to refuse food. Since he is the Big Eater of the series, the rest get worried.

Live-Action TV
  • Mash: After Klinger has a Fever Dream Episode and talks to a dead soldier, at the end of the episode he wakes up in post-op and reports that he's hungry. Margaret: "That's a good sign." That's not the only time it comes up.

Video Games
  • In Star Ocean 3, after Cliff and Mirage rescued Maria after she escaped from a spaceship wreckage, after which she had lost both her parents, after she wakes up, they worry that she might still be injured. When she replies that she's hungry, both laugh in relief, and Cliff tells Mirage to get her some food.

Western Animation
  • In Hey Arnold!, one of the symptoms that worries Helga that she might have monkeynucleosis is a lack of appetite. However, this is a subversion, as it turns out that the entire thing was all in her head. Since lack of appetite can also be a symptom of stress, it's likely that's where the lack of appetite came from.
Community Feedback Replies: 40
  • June 24, 2013
    Chabal2
    Obelix gets this in conjunction with OOC Is Serious Business:
    Getafix: Did he eat anything?
    Asterix: Two boars.
    Getafix: Right, he didn't eat anything.

  • June 25, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    I think you should remove the spoiler tag from at least the first two censored words in the Star Ocean 3 example, since otherwise the reader never sees Maria's name and won't know who the female pronouns are referring to. Or is her identity still integral to the plot point?

    Also see Forgets To Eat for when people unintentionally ignore their hunger because they're engrossed in something else.
  • June 25, 2013
    KTera
    You should probably note that this isn't the same as Hyperactive Metabolism, even if that trope is this one taken a a little too literally.
  • June 25, 2013
    Clevomon
    Maria shows up pretty late, relatively speaking. The spoilers in question relate to her backstory, which is why I spoilered them out, but the flashback in question is shown relatively soon after she does appear. I'll tentatively remove them from the first two words, and if someone feels the need to put them back in later, they can do so. Thanks for the advice.
  • June 25, 2013
    XFllo
    Literature
    • In Emma, Miss Jane Fairfax is something of an Ill Girl with shattered health and she's also depressed because Love Hurts. Her doting aunt Miss Bates is worried constantly about the small amounts of food she eats.
  • June 25, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    It is advised that the examples actually included the name of the work, meaning that it shouldn't be hidden behind a Pot Hole (I'm referring to the Asterix example). This makes it easier to check if the page already includes some example.
  • June 25, 2013
    Omeganian
    • In the fifth book of the Sword Of Truth series, Zedd claims he is fine, but then immediately goes on to refuse food. Since he is the Big Eater of the series, the rest get worried.
  • June 26, 2013
    Arivne
    ^^ This is actually a TV Tropes rule.

    How To Write An Example - State the source: The name of the work the example comes from should be clearly stated, ideally near the beginning of the example.
  • June 26, 2013
    Clevomon
    @Arivne

    I fixed the Asterix entry in response to Paradisesnake, and I'll try to remember that for the future. Thanks for highlighting that point.
  • June 28, 2013
    randomsurfer
    There was an episode of MASH where a patient (possibly Klinger) came out of a quasi-coma and asked for some food. Margaret exclaims "He's hungry!" in celebration of the recovery and alerts the others; meanwhile the patient still has to ask for some food again.

    But I don't remember which episode or what else was going on.
  • June 29, 2013
    Stratadrake
    Think we could call this just a Healthy Appetite? X Equals Y snowclones are not good.
  • June 29, 2013
    Clevomon
    I have nothing against that name. I'll make a crowner in a bit.
  • June 29, 2013
    chicagomel
    Often Truth In Television with animals...it's not uncommon for one of the big signs an animal is ill is that it's refusing to eat. People, too, sometimes.
  • June 29, 2013
    randomsurfer
  • June 29, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    How about Hungry Is Healthy?
  • June 29, 2013
    m8e
    That's sounds like it's healthy to go hungry and not eat.

    I'm not seeing any problems with Appetite Equals Health.
  • July 11, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    I'll give this another shot. What about "Not Hungry, Not Healthy"? (Can trope names still have commas added at launch? I know punctuation doesn't work in a pot hole.)
  • July 14, 2013
    XFllo
    You can request customized title.I quite like Appetite Equals Health.
  • July 20, 2013
    grapesandmilk
    You should make the laconic version a bit clearer.
  • July 21, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    • Early in Gone With The Wind, Mammy brings Scarlett a tray with food before the O'Haras leave for the Wilkes' barbecue; Mammy insists Scarlett shouldn't be seen eating much at the party to maintain a ladylike appearance. Scarlett initially refuses the food because, in her words, "Ashley said he likes to see a girl with a healthy appetite.''
  • July 29, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Update re MASH: after Klinger has a Fever Dream Episode and talks to a dead soldier, at the end of the episode he wakes up in post-op and reports that he's hungry. Margaret: "That's a good sign." But that's not the only time it comes up.
  • September 21, 2013
    nitrokitty
    • Inverted in Alien. The hapless victim is sitting down to dinner with a hearty appetite before the Chest Burster kicks in.
  • November 7, 2013
    XFllo
  • November 7, 2013
    dalek955
    • In Freefall, Florence gets wounded and loses a lot of blood. The doctor says that she's going to have no appetite for a while, while her body concentrates on regenerating said blood, and they'll know she's fine when she suddenly becomes ravenous.
  • January 29, 2014
    DennisDunjinman
    If I would name this trope, it would be If You're Eating Well, You're Well. And, inversely, If You're Off You're Food, You're Ill.
  • January 29, 2014
    TheTitan99
  • May 13, 2014
    DAN004
    Pmub.
  • May 13, 2014
    SKJAM
    Wolf Children: When toddler Yuki eats something she shouldn't have, Hana frantically calls a poison hotline. Fortunately the item was relatively harmless, and the person on the other end asks about Yuki's appetite. Since the girl is hungry, no harm is done.
  • May 13, 2014
    DAN004
    Is X Fllo still maintaining this?
  • May 13, 2014
    Tuckerscreator
    • In Shakespeare's Scribe, Widge, a former doctor's apprentice, examines a girl name Tetty who fears she's caught the plague. After a brief inspection for plague symptoms, finding none, Widge asks if she's lost her appetite. She confirms she's hungry, reassuring her that she's not plague-infected.
  • May 13, 2014
    StrixObscuro
    Comic Book
    • Towards the end of the last arc of Runaways, Klara is seen eating and drinking, showing that she is recovering from the various injuries and ailments that she suffered in the previous two issues. Of course, not long afterwards, she ends up vomiting it all up after developing motion sickness while riding around in the Leapfrog. Poor girl can't catch a break...
  • May 14, 2014
    XFllo
    @ DAN: Actually, no. I quite forgot about this draft (and I'm kind of off YKTTW these days).
  • May 14, 2014
    DAN004
    So who wanna grab this?
  • May 14, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    Namespaced the examples.
  • May 14, 2014
    WaterBlap
    • Minecraft:
      • The game has both a health and hunger bar, and if your hunger bar is empty (i.e. the character is starving), you will start losing half a Hit Point. If your hunger bar is full, however, then you'll start regaining Hit Points.
      • Averted in Peaceful Mode (the easiest mode to play in), where there is no hunger bar.
  • May 15, 2014
    Arivne
    ^ I think that would be another trope we may not have yet, You Cant Heal If You Are Starving, which I've seen in some Tabletop Games.
  • October 4, 2014
    XFllo
    ^ I agree, the concept is quite different in games.

    I say this should be launched soon. Pity this draft was abandoned.
  • October 4, 2014
    SvartiKotturinn
  • October 4, 2014
    SvartiKotturinn
    • In the novel Run Boy Run, appetite and slight weight gaining are frequently used in juxtaposition with improving health.
  • September 26, 2015
    SvartiKotturinn
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