Genetics of eating behavior: established and emerging concepts


N Steinle, Department of Medicine and University of Maryland School of Medicine, 660 West Redwood Street Room 467, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA. E-mail:, Phone: +41-07-061-512, Fax: +41-07-061-646.


Understanding why we eat and the motivational factors driving food choices is important for addressing the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Eating behavior is a complex interplay of physiological, psychological, social, and genetic factors that influence meal timing, quantity of food intake, and food preference. Reviewed here is the current and emerging knowledge of the genetic influences on eating behavior and how these relate to obesity; particular emphasis is placed on the genetics of taste, meal size, and selection, and the emerging use of functional magnetic resonance imaging to study neural reactions in response to food stimuli in normal, overweight, and obese individuals.