Understanding the regulatory mechanisms that control food intake and body weight is important for the treatment of obesity and the conceptualization of eating disorders. Although the mechanisms remain incompletely known, they appear to represent a complex interaction of neural and chemical signals operating at the gastrointestinal tract and central nervous system. This paper reviews the current concepts underlying appetite and body weight regulation and their application to the treatment of obesity. The section on eating disorders provides a conceptualization of the dynamic processes that include psychological, familial, and sociocultural variables in addition to physiologic factors.
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