Relation of obesity to consummatory and anticipatory food reward

Eric Stice, Sonja Spoor, Janet Ng, David H. Zald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

203 Scopus citations


This report reviews findings from studies that have investigated whether abnormalities in reward from food intake and anticipated food intake increase risk for obesity. Self-report and behavioral data suggest that obese relative to lean individuals show elevated anticipatory and consummatory food reward. Brain imaging studies suggest that obese relative to lean individuals show greater activation of the gustatory cortex (insula/frontal operculum) and oral somatosensory regions (parietal operculum and Rolandic operculum) in response to anticipated intake and consumption of palatable foods. Yet, data also suggest that obese relative to lean individuals show less activation in the dorsal striatum in response to consumption of palatable foods and reduced striatal D2 dopamine receptor density. Emerging prospective data also suggest that abnormal activation in these brain regions increases risk for future weight gain and that genotypes associated with lowered dopamine signaling amplify these predictive effects. Results imply that individuals who show greater activation in the gustatory cortex and somatosensory regions in response to anticipation and consumption of food, but who show weaker activation in the striatum during food intake, may be at risk for overeating, particularly those at genetic risk for lowered dopamine receptor signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-560
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 14 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


  • Anticipatory and consummatory food reward
  • Neuroimaging review
  • Obesity


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