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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2011 Jun;300(6):R1266-77. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00028.2011. Epub 2011 Mar 16.

Food reward, hyperphagia, and obesity.

Author information

1
Neurobiology of Nutrition Laboratory, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University System, Baton Rouge, 70808, USA. berthohr@pbrc.edu

Abstract

Given the unabated obesity problem, there is increasing appreciation of expressions like "my eyes are bigger than my stomach," and recent studies in rodents and humans suggest that dysregulated brain reward pathways may be contributing not only to drug addiction but also to increased intake of palatable foods and ultimately obesity. After describing recent progress in revealing the neural pathways and mechanisms underlying food reward and the attribution of incentive salience by internal state signals, we analyze the potentially circular relationship between palatable food intake, hyperphagia, and obesity. Are there preexisting individual differences in reward functions at an early age, and could they be responsible for development of obesity later in life? Does repeated exposure to palatable foods set off a cascade of sensitization as in drug and alcohol addiction? Are reward functions altered by secondary effects of the obese state, such as increased signaling through inflammatory, oxidative, and mitochondrial stress pathways? Answering these questions will significantly impact prevention and treatment of obesity and its ensuing comorbidities as well as eating disorders and drug and alcohol addiction.

PMID:
21411768
PMCID:
PMC3119156
DOI:
10.1152/ajpregu.00028.2011
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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