PerspectiveNeuroscience

Releasing the brake on eating

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Science  28 Jun 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6447, pp. 1233-1234
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay0204

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Summary

Obesity is a global health problem that contributes to the increased incidence of other diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, and cancer. Overeating is the largest determinant of obesity (1), yet we understand very little of the neural mechanisms underlying why individuals continue to consume food regardless of satiety. The lateral hypothalamic area (LHA) is a key region of the brain that coordinates diverse physiological functions related to survival—including responses to stress, drinking, and energy homeostasis, in order to maintain a physiological equilibrium in a changing environment. The LHA receives a variety of peripheral inputs about current energy needs and integrates these with centrally provided information to coordinate behavior. On page 1271 of this issue, Rossi et al. (2) demonstrate how glutamatergic neurons of the LHA respond to an obesogenic diet of high-fat chow, potentially explaining overeating.