Neural and Molecular Mechanisms Involved in Controlling the Quality of Feeding Behavior: Diet Selection and Feeding Patterns
We are what we eat. There are three aspects of feeding: what, when, and how much. These aspects represent the quantity (how much) and quality (what and when) of feeding. The quantitative aspect of feeding has been studied extensively, because weight is primarily determined by the balance between caloric intake and expenditure. In contrast, less is known about the mechanisms that regulate the qualitative aspects of feeding, although they also significantly impact the control of weight and health. However, two aspects of feeding quality relevant to weight loss and weight regain are discussed in this review: macronutrient-based diet selection (what) and feeding pattern (when). This review covers the importance of these two factors in controlling weight and health, and the central mechanisms that regulate them. The relatively limited and fragmented knowledge on these topics indicates that we lack an integrated understanding of the qualitative aspects of feeding behavior. To promote better understanding of weight control, research efforts must focus more on the mechanisms that control the quality and quantity of feeding behavior. This understanding will contribute to improving dietary interventions for achieving weight control and for preventing weight regain following weight loss.