Obesity and the Neurocognitive Basis of Food Reward and the Control of Intake (2015)

Adv Nutr. 2015 Jul 15;6(4):474-86. doi: 10.3945/an.115.008268. Print 2015 Jul.

Ziauddeen H1, Alonso-Alonso M2, Hill JO3, Kelley M4, Khan NA5.


With the rising prevalence of obesity, hedonic eating has become an important theme in obesity research. Hedonic eating is thought to be that driven by the reward of food consumption and not metabolic need, and this has focused attention on the brain reward system and how its dysregulation may cause overeating and obesity. Here, we begin by examining the brain reward system and the evidence for its dysregulation in human obesity. We then consider the issue of how individuals are able to control their hedonic eating in the present obesogenic environment and compare 2 contrasting perspectives on the control of hedonic eating, specifically, enhanced control of intake via higher cognitive control and loss of control over intake as captured by the food addiction model. We conclude by considering what these perspectives offer in terms of directions for future research and for potential interventions to improve control over food intake at the population and the individual levels.