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Physiol Rev. 2003 Jan;83(1):25-58.

Blood glucose dynamics and control of meal initiation: a pattern detection and recognition theory.

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Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, College of Applied Human Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523, USA.


A new framework for understanding the control of feeding behavior, with special emphasis on the evolution of hunger, the initiation of feeding, and its dependence on patterns of blood glucose, is the subject of this review. A perspective on the current status and future directions of this search for a more complete understanding of the regulation of feeding behavior in laboratory rats and humans is presented including theoretical and experimental components. First, a historical perspective on the role of blood glucose in the control of feeding is presented. Next, the theoretical approaches that have been applied to the control of feeding and had a strong influence on experimental feeding research are summarized. This is followed by a statement and overview of a current theory that has emerged from studies of the role of transient declines in blood glucose in the control of meal initiation. The current working hypothesis that transient declines in blood glucose are endogenous metabolic patterns that are detected and recognized by the central nervous system and are mapped into meal initiation in rats and are correlated with meal requests in humans are then presented. Then, the experimental studies on meal initiation and its dependence on patterns of blood glucose, first in rats and then in humans, are reviewed in detail. Finally, the future directions of the work, limitations, and the implications for the understanding of the control of feeding behavior and the regulation of energy balance are discussed.

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