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Food Addiction and Cues in Prader-Willi Syndrome

von Deneen, Karen M. MS, DVM; Gold, Mark S. MD; Liu, Yijun PhD

Journal of Addiction Medicine: March 2009 - Volume 3 - Issue 1 - p 19-25
doi: 10.1097/ADM.0b013e31819a6e5f
Review Article

Obesity research has recognized that there are many factors contributing to this devastating disorder. Much debate has arisen among scientists to develop models that might be useful in understanding why obesity has become a major health problem and epidemic. However, much of the current debate has been fractious and causes of obesity have been attributed solely to behavior or fast food, personality issues, depression, addiction, or genetics. One of the neurohormonal and genetic causes has been found in Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS), which results in excessive, pathologic reinforcement of food. We have studied PWS to delineate the neurobiology so that environmental cue stimulation may be explained for PWS. Neuroimaging studies have shown that appetizing food and food cues are associated with appetite stimulation. Appetite control is poor in PWS, thus food cues play a major role in its regulation. Hence, PWS may be the genetic model of choice for obesity.

From the Departments of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, McKnight Brain Institute; The University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

Received for publication October 1, 2008; accepted December 29, 2008.

Send correspondence and reprint requests to Karen M. von Deneen, MS, DVM, The University of Florida McKnight Brain Institute, PO BOX 100256, Gainesville, FL 32610-0256. e-mail:

Supported in part by grant from NIH (NS045518; DA 016221 to YL).

© 2009 American Society of Addiction Medicine