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Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010 Mar 22;3(3):748-763.

Phytochemicals in the Control of Human Appetite and Body Weight.

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Kissileff Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behaviour, School of Psychology, University of Liverpool, Eleanor Rathbone Building, Bedford Street South, Liverpool L69 7ZA, UK.


Since obesity has grown to epidemic proportions, its effective management is a very important clinical issue. Despite the great amount of scientific effort that has been put into understanding the mechanisms that lead to overconsumption and overweight, at the moment very few approaches to weight management are effective in the long term. On the other hand, modern society is also affected by the growing incidence of eating disorders on the other side of the spectrum such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa which are equally difficult to treat. This review will try to summarise the main findings available in the literature regarding the effect of plants or plant extracts (phytochemicals) on human appetite and body weight. The majority of plant extracts are not single compounds but rather a mixture of different molecules, therefore their mechanism of action usually targets several systems. In addition, since some cellular receptors tend to be widely distributed, sometimes a single molecule can have a widespread effect. This review will attempt to describe the main phytochemicals that have been suggested to affect the homeostatic mechanisms that influence intake and body weight. Clinical data will be summarised and scientific evidence will be reviewed.


calories; energy expenditure; energy intake; obesity

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