Adequate energy intake is vital for the survival of humans and is regulated by complex homeostatic and hedonic mechanisms. Supported by functional MRI (fMRI) studies that consistently demonstrate differences in brain response as a function of weight status during exposure to appetizing food stimuli, it has been posited that hedonically driven food intake contributes to weight gain and obesity maintenance. These food reward theories of obesity are reliant on the notion that the aberrant brain response to food stimuli relates directly to ingestive behavior, specifically, excess food intake. Importantly, functioning of homeostatic neuroendocrine regulators of food intake, such as leptin and ghrelin, are impacted by weight status. Thus, data from studies that evaluate the effect on weight status on brain response to food may be a result of differences in neuroendocrine functioning and/or behavior. In the present review, we examine the influence of weight and weight change, exogenous administration of appetitive hormones, and ingestive behavior on BOLD response to food stimuli.
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