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Obesity is a chronic recurring disease whose prevalence has almost tripled over the past 40 years. In individuals with obesity, there is significant increased risk of morbidity and mortality, along with decreased quality of life. Increased obesity prevalence results, at least partly, from the increased global food supply that provides ubiquitous access to tasty, energy-dense foods. These hedonic foods and the nonfood cues that through association become reward predictive cues activate brain appetitive control circuits that drive hyperphagia and weight gain by enhancing food-seeking, motivation, and reward. Behavioral therapy (diet and lifestyle modifications) is the recommended initial treatment for obesity, yet it often fails to achieve meaningful weight loss. Furthermore, those who lose weight regain it over time through biological regulation. The need to effectively treat the pathophysiology of obesity thus centers on biologically based approaches such as bariatric surgery and more recently developed drug therapies. This review highlights neurobiological aspects relevant to obesity causation and treatment by emphasizing the common aspects of the feeding-inhibitory effects of multiple signals. We focus on glucagon like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) signaling as a promising obesity treatment target by discussing the activation of intestinal- and brain-derived GLP-1 and GLP-1R expressing central nervous system circuits resulting from normal eating, bariatric surgery, and GLP-1R agonist drug therapy. Given the increased availability of energy-dense foods and frequent encounters with cues that drive hyperphagia, this review also describes how bariatric surgery and GLP-1R agonist therapies influence food reward and the motivational drive to overeat. © Endocrine Society 2020. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


Harvey J Grill. A Role for GLP-1 in Treating Hyperphagia and Obesity. Endocrinology. 2020 Aug 01;161(8)

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PMID: 32516384

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