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Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2007 Dec;7(6):607-12. Epub 2007 Nov 26.

Eating for pleasure or calories.

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  • 1Neurobiology of Nutrition Laboratory, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University System, 6400 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70808, USA.


A changing environment and lifestyle on the background of evolutionary engraved or perinatally imprinted physiological response patterns is the foremost explanation for the current obesity epidemic. However, it is not clear what the mechanisms are by which the modern environment overrides the physiological controls of appetite and homeostatic body weight regulation. Major advances have been made regarding crosstalk between metabolic signals and the cognitive/emotional brain that primarily deals with the environment. On one hand, metabolic signals such as leptin and ghrelin have previously unexpected direct effects on learning and memory, as well as liking and wanting. On the other hand, brain areas involved in reward, cognition, and executive control can override metabolic regulation by talking to the hypothalamus.

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