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Psychosom Med. 1996 Nov-Dec;58(6):559-69.

The controls of fat intake.

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Department of Psychiatry, Cornell University Medical College, White Plains, New York 10605, USA.



To present evidence on the control of the size of fatty meals in the context of the result of interactions of orosensory positive-feedback and postingestive negative-feedback mechanisms activated by fat stimuli in rodent models of feeding and of obesity.


We examined the effects of orosensory stimuli and postingestive stimuli in Sprague-Dawley rats, and in the genetically obese Zucker (fa/fa) rat. We used the sham feeding rat preparation to isolate the orosensory stimulating and postingestive satiating properties of oils. The negative-feedback satiating properties of fats were elicited by intestinal infusions of fats. The Zucker rat is an animal model of obesity with abnormal control of meal size and increased intake of fats. Using this model we further examined the interaction of orosensory and postingestive stimuli in the control of meal size.


The orosensory properties of fats are sufficient to drive sham feeding and are not dependent on the postabsorptive metabolic consequences of oils in normal and Zucker rats. The satiating action of fats must act at preabsorptive sites because reduction of intake occurs before absorption of fat. The satiating potency of fats is dependent upon their specific chemical conformation and is mediated by endogenous cholecystokinin and afferent fibers of the abdominal vagus. We have found that oils produce significantly more orosensory positive feedback in obese Zucker rats than in lean rats in experimental tests of preference. This is probably the major abnormal mechanism responsible for the increased preference for fats that is characteristic of obese rats because we have not identified any significant decrease in the postingestive satiating potency of fats in obese Zucker rats.


Fat intake is controlled by both orosensory and postingestive stimuli in normal and genetically obese rodents. In the Zucker rat the investigation of this model of genetic obesity has produced data that is congruent with the preference for high fat foods in obese people and suggests further experiments directed toward a deeper understanding of the controls of fat intake and how they are disordered.

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