Hyperpalatability and the Generation of Obesity: Roles of Environment, Stress Exposure and Individual Difference (2018)

Curr Obes Rep. 2018 Feb 13. doi: 10.1007/s13679-018-0292-0.

Leigh SJ1, Lee F1, Morris MJ2.



This review investigates how exposure to palatable food and its associated cues alters appetite regulation and feeding behaviour to drive overeating and weight gain.


Both supraphysiological and physiological feeding systems are affected by exposure to palatable foods and its associated cues. Preclinical research, largely using rodents, has demonstrated that palatable food modulates feeding-related neural systems and food-seeking behaviour by recruiting the mesolimbic reward pathway. This is supported by studies in adolescents which have shown that mesolimbic activity in response to palatable food cues and consumption predicts future weight gain. Additionally, stress exposure, environmental factors and individual susceptibility have been shown to modulate the effects of highly palatable foods on behaviour. Further preclinical research using free-choice diets modelling the modern obesogenic environment is needed to identify how palatable foods drive overeating. Moreover, future clinical research would benefit from more appropriate quantification of palatability, making use of rating systems and surveys.


Food addiction; Hyperpalatability; Hyperphagia; Obesity; Reward; Stress

PMID: 29435959

DOI: 10.1007/s13679-018-0292-0