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Physiol Behav. 2010 Jul 14;100(5):446-53. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.04.028. Epub 2010 May 5.

The control of food intake of free-living humans: putting the pieces back together.

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College of Humanities & Social Sciences, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX 77341, United States.


The control of food intake has been studied using reductionism; by separately investigating environmental, physiological, and genetic variables. The general model of intake regulation attempts to reassemble the pieces into an organized whole. It postulates that intake is influenced by sets of both physiological factors which have negative feedback loops to intake and environmental factors which do not. Data and behavioral genetic analysis on a number of environmental, psychological, dietary, and social variables demonstrate that they have large impacts on the intake of free-living humans in their everyday environments and their magnitude and impact on intake are influenced by heredity. Recent evidence of built environment influences on activity and intake further indicate the profound influence of environmental circumstances on both intake and expenditure. A computer simulation of the general model of intake regulation demonstrates that the model predicts different maintained levels of intake and body weight depending upon the external environment and that change in the environment can produce new sustained levels. It is suggested that eating is influenced by a myriad of physiological and non-physiological factors and that total intake results from the integral of their influences. It is concluded that recombining the components broken down in the reductionistic process results in a functional whole that can well describe human behavior in natural environments. The paper represents an invited review by a symposium, award winner or keynote speaker at the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior [SSIB] Annual Meeting in Portland, July 2009.

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