PHYSIOLOGY OF HUNGER
Over the years, our world has been no stranger to the sensation of hunger. Recently in 2012, The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) found that 12% of the world’s population, or 870 million, were severely hungry. Additionally, 2.5 million children die each year simply because they go hungry. (10)
Hunger is a natural sensation we feel and is caused by a drop in blood sugar. Within the brain, the center receptor of hunger is located in a small area called the hypothalamus. The sides of the hypothalamus are sensitive to hunger hormones like Insulin (from the Pancreas), Ghrelin (from the stomach), and Orexin (from the hypothalamus), and relay information if blood sugar levels are low, causing us to be hungry and to eat food.
The middle area of the hypothalamus represses hunger and makes us feel full. This area is sensitive to the hunger suppressing hormones Leptin from Fat) and PPY (from the digestive system).
The hypothalamus also aids in regulating our body weight. When you lose weight, the hypothalamus reacts by making you want more food and by decreasing your body’s energy output. When you gain weight, the hypothalamus reacts by decreasing your appetite and increasing your body’s energy expenditure. These natural sensations must be overcome if one is to obtain their goal of weight loss and maintain their body weight at their new lower weight after dieting. (55)(42)
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