Physiologic approaches to the control of obesity.
Morbid obesity is a major health problem in this country and throughout the world. In addition to its social stigma (in the western world), obesity exacerbates several disease states such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiac disease and restrictive lung disease. When effective medical treatment of obesity becomes available, it will depend in part upon understanding the physiologic factors that control satiety. This review summarizes the information available on brain and gut control mechanisms of satiety. Brain nuclei located in the lateral hypothalamus, ventromedial hypothalamus, and other paraventricular areas are the sites of action for potent neuropeptides, such as cholecystokinin (CCK) and neuropeptide Y, that appear to regulate feeding. Exogenous CCK has been used clinically to decrease meal size in obese patients. The sites of the satiety cascade that are most often manipulated are the gastric and intestinal phases. Physiologic gastric distension is a potent inhibitor of feeding, whereas the intermeal interval may be regulated by intestinal signals released by food in the gut. Jejunal-ileal bypass has fallen from favor and has been replaced by gastric restrictive procedures that create a small proximal gastric pouch that empties into the small bowel (gastric bypass) or the distal stomach (gastroplasty). These operations rely partially on their ability to produce gastric distension in the proximal gastric pouch at an early stage during a meal. Thus, failure results if the pouch compensates by distending or if the stoma widens with subsequent loss of slow emptying. Improved medical and surgical treatment will be designed to intervene at specific sites of the satiety cascade as knowledge of the physiologic control mechanisms of satiety increases.
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