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Central nervous system control of food intake and body weight


The capacity to adjust food intake in response to changing energy requirements is essential for survival. Recent progress has provided an insight into the molecular, cellular and behavioural mechanisms that link changes of body fat stores to adaptive adjustments of feeding behaviour. The physiological importance of this homeostatic control system is highlighted by the severe obesity that results from dysfunction of any of several of its key components. This new information provides a biological context within which to consider the global obesity epidemic and identifies numerous potential avenues for therapeutic intervention and future research.

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This work was supported by NIH grants, the Diabetes Endocrinology Research Center and Clinical Nutrition Research Unit of the University of Washington, and by a grant from the Murdock Charitable Trust. We acknowledge assistance in manuscript preparation provided by C. Balach; discussions with research fellows and faculty at the University of Washington; and wisdom gained from a conference on feeding behaviour held at the Banbury Center, New York, in May 2006.

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Correspondence to M. W. Schwartz.

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Further reading

Figure 1: Model for negative-feedback regulation of food intake in response to changes in body fat content.
Figure 2: Model for integration of adiposity- and satiety-related inputs.
Figure 3: Model for integration of adiposity- and reward-related inputs.
Figure 4: Hypothalamic neurocircuits and signal transduction mechanisms involved in energy homeostasis.


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