Current Obesity Reports

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 122–129 | Cite as

Food Cues and Obesity: Overpowering Hormones and Energy Balance Regulation

  • Renata Belfort-DeAguiarEmail author
  • Dongju SeoEmail author
Obesity Treatment (CM Apovian, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Obesity Treatment


Purpose of Review

In the modern obesogenic environment, food cues play a crucial role in the development of obesity by disrupting hormone and energy balance mechanisms. Thus, it is critical to understand the neurobiology of feeding behaviors and obesity in the context of ubiquitous food cues. The current paper reviews the physiology of feeding, hormonal regulation of energy balance, and food cue responses and discusses their contributions to obesity.

Recent Findings

Food cues have strong impact on human physiology. Obese individuals have altered food cue-elicited responses in the brain and periphery, overpowering hormone and energy balance regulation. Disrupted homeostasis during food cue exposure leads to continued food intake, unsuccessful weight management, and poor treatment outcomes, which further contributes to obesity epidemic.


Findings from the review emphasize the crucial role of food cues in obesity epidemic, which necessitates multidimensional approaches to the prevention and treatment of obesity, including psychosocial interventions to reduce food cue reactivity, along with conventional treatment.


Obesity Food cues Brain activity hormone Energy balance 


Funding Support

This work was funded in part by grants from the NIH (K23 DK098286-02 to R Belfort-DeAguiar from the NIDDK), (K08-AA023545 to D Seo from the NIAAA), and a Young Investigator Grant (Seo) from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. This publication was made possible by CTSA Grant Number UL1 TR00142 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of NIH.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Renata Belfort-DeAguiar and Dongju Seo declare they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All reported studies/experiments with human subjects performed by the authors have been previously published and complied with all applicable ethical standards (including the Helsinki declaration and its amendments, institutional/national research committee standards, and international/national/institutional guidelines).


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

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Internal Medicine Section of EndocrinologyYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA

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