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Séminaire impromptu - Stephen WoodsMisunderstanding the control of food intake and body weight by the brain

Abstract :

 The relationship between food intake and body weight is complex and generally considered to be dictated by homeostatic mechanisms and reflexes. 
These in turn are thought to be mediated by neural and hormonal signals related to body fat such as leptin and insulin, to food being consumed such as cholecystokinin and GLP-1, and to nutrients in the blood, all converging in the brain to direct eating behavior.  Although the great majority of published studies on the biological control of food intake are based on these premises, the assumptions are in fact often incorrect and may be completely wrong.

 Data inconsistent with the accepted model of the control of food intake will be reviewed, with one conclusion being that rather than hormonal and other influences being hard-wired, they are probabilistic at best.  Finally, the implications for theory and scientific discourse will be discussed. 

Selected publications

Woods, SC, RJ Seeley, D Porte Jr & MW Schwartz.  Signals that regulate food intake and energy homeostasis.  Science, 280:1378-1383, 1998.  PMID: 9603721

Woods SC.  The control of food intake:  Behavioral vs. molecular perspectives.  Cell Metab, 9, 489-498, 2009.  PMC: 3090647

Woods SC & W Langhans.  Inconsistencies in the assessment of food intake.  Am J Physiol, 303, E1408-1418, 2012.  PMC: 3774413

Ramsay DS & SC Woods.  Clarifying the roles of homeostasis and allostasis in physiological regulation. Psychol Rev, 121, 225-247, 2014.  PMID: 24730599  PMC: 4166604