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The past decade has witnessed accelerating basic research on the role of neuropeptides in the regulation of feeding behavior and obesity. The mechanisms for controlling food intake involve a complicated interplay between peripheral systems (including gustatory stimulation, gastrointestinal peptide secretion, and vagal afferent nerve responses) and central nervous system (CNS) neuropeptides and/or monoamines. Thus, studies in animals show that neuropeptides—such as cholecystokinin, the endogenous opioids (e.g., -endorphin), and neuropeptide Y—regulate the rate, duration, and size of meals, as well as macronutrient selection (Morley and Blundell 1988; Schwartz et al. 2000). In addition to regulating eating behavior, a number of CNS neuropeptides participate in the regulation of neuroendocrine pathways. Thus, clinical studies have evaluated the possibility that CNS neuropeptide alterations may contribute to dysregulated secretion of gonadal hormones, cortisol, thyroid hormones, and growth hormone in the eating disorders (Jimerson et al. 1998; Stoving et al. 1999).

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