Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Advances in Pharmacological Sciences
Volume 2016, Article ID 7238679, 7 pages
Review Article

The Influence of Palatable Diets in Reward System Activation: A Mini Review

1Pharmacology of Pain and Neuromodulation Laboratory: Animal Models, Department of Pharmacology, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Institute of Basic Health Sciences, 90050-170 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil
2Graduate Program in Biological Sciences-Physiology, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Institute of Basic Health Sciences, 90050-170 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil
3Graduate Program of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, Institute of Toxicology, 90619-900 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

Received 3 November 2015; Revised 12 February 2016; Accepted 16 February 2016

Academic Editor: Berend Olivier

Copyright © 2016 Isabel Cristina de Macedo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The changes in eating patterns that have occurred in recent decades are an important cause of obesity. Food intake and energy expenditure are controlled by a complex neural system involving the hypothalamic centers and peripheral satiety system (gastrointestinal and pancreatic hormones). Highly palatable and caloric food disrupts appetite regulation; however, palatable foods induce pleasure and reward. The cafeteria diet is such a palatable diet and has been shown consistently to increase body weight and induce hyperplasia in animal obesity models. Moreover, palatable high-fat foods (such as those of the cafeteria diet) can induce addiction-like deficits in brain reward function and are considered to be an important source of motivation that might drive overeating and contribute to the development of obesity. The mechanism of neural adaptation triggered by palatable foods is similar to those that have been reported for nondrug addictions and long-term drug use. Thus, this review attempts to describe the potential mechanisms that might lead to highly palatable diets, such as the cafeteria diet, triggering addiction, or compulsion through the reward system.