Current Obesity Reports

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 353–361 | Cite as

Food for Thought: Reward Mechanisms and Hedonic Overeating in Obesity

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Purpose of Review

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

Recent Findings

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.


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


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Phong Ching Lee declares that he has no conflict of interest.

John B. Dixon has a Senior Research Fellowship with the National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia); has received compensation from Apollo Endosurgery, Bariatric Advantage, and Covidien for service as a consultant; has received compensation from iNova Pharmaceuticals for service as a consultant and guest speaker; has received compensation from Nestlé for serving as a guest speaker as well as on a scientific advisory board(s); has received compensation from Novartis for serving as a guest speaker as well as on a scientific advisory board(s); has received compensation from Novo Nordisk for service on scientific advisory boards; and has received compensation from mdBriefCase for providing assistance in the development of educational materials.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Obesity and Metabolism Unit, Department of EndocrinologySingapore General HospitalBukit MerahSingapore
  2. 2.Clinical Obesity ResearchBaker Heart and Diabetes InstituteMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Iverson Health Innovation Research InstituteSwinburne UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Primary Care Research UnitMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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