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Weight regulation: physiology and pathophysiology 

Weight regulation: physiology and pathophysiology
Chapter:
Weight regulation: physiology and pathophysiology
Author(s):

Saira Hameed

and Waljit S. Dhillo

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199235292.003.1227
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date: 26 June 2019

Body weight in humans is regulated by highly complex interacting neuronal and endocrine pathways that serve to stimulate food intake and reduce energy expenditure during food deficiency and to inhibit feeding when nutrition is replete. These mechanisms are highly conserved between mammalian species and promote the storage of sufficient quantities of energy-dense triglycerides in adipose tissue, thereby permitting survival during the frequent periods of food deprivation that were encountered during evolution. However, in modern times the ready availability of energy-dense food and the reduced necessity for energy expenditure has resulted in the excess storage of adipose tissue and a prevalence of overweight and obesity that the WHO considers to be an ‘epidemic’ (1). Overweight and obesity cause major morbidity and mortality, which are greatly attenuated when even modest amounts of weight are lost. Over the past two decades molecular biology and genetic studies have delineated many of the signals and pathways of appetite and body weight regulation. The therapeutic manipulation of these targets in the treatment of obesity is currently underway.

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