Food for Thought: Reward Mechanisms and Hedonic Overeating in Obesity (2017)

Curr Obes Rep. 2017 Oct 19. doi: 10.1007/s13679-017-0280-9.

Lee PC1, Dixon JB2,3,4.



This review examines the food addiction model and the role of food hedonic pathways in the pathogenesis and treatment of obesity.


The hedonic pathway interacts with the obesogenic environment to override homeostatic mechanisms to cause increase in body weight. Weight gain sustained over time leads to “upward setting” of defended level of body-fat mass. There are neurobiological and phenotypic similarities and differences between hedonic pathways triggered by food compared with other addictive substances, and the entity of food addiction remains controversial. Treatment for obesity including pharmacotherapy and bariatric surgery impacts on neural pathways governing appetite and hedonic control of food intake. The food addiction model may also have significant impact on public health policy, regulation of certain foods, and weight stigma and bias. Recent rapid progress in delineation of food hedonic pathways advances our understanding of obesity and facilitates development of effective treatment measures against the disease.

KEYWORDS: Energy homeostasis; Food reward pathway; Hedonic overeating; Neural control of appetite; Obesity

PMID: 29052153

DOI: 10.1007/s13679-017-0280-9