Obesity is associated with a prolonged imbalance between energy intake and expenditure, both of which are regulated by multiple feedback processes within and across individuals. These processes constitute 3 hierarchical control systems—homeostatic, hedonic, and cognitive—with extensive interaction among them. Understanding complex eating behavior requires consideration of all 3 systems and their interactions.
Existing models of these processes are widely scattered, with relatively few attempts to integrate across mechanisms. We briefly review available empirical evidence and dynamic models, discussing challenges and potential for better integration.
We conclude that developing richer models of dynamic interplay among systems should be a priority in the future study of obesity and that systems science modeling offers the potential to aid in this goal.