Genetics and pathophysiology of human obesity

Annu Rev Med. 2003:54:453-71. doi: 10.1146/ Epub 2001 Dec 3.


Obesity has become a leading public health concern. Over 1 billion people are now overweight or obese, and the prevalence of these conditions is rising rapidly. Remarkable new insights into the mechanisms that control body weight are providing an increasingly detailed framework for a better understanding of obesity pathogenesis. Key peripheral signals, such as leptin, insulin, and ghrelin, have been linked to hypothalamic neuropeptide systems, and the anatomic and functional networks that integrate these systems have begun to be elucidated. This article highlights some of these recent findings and their implications for the future of obesity treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Energy Metabolism / genetics
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Ghrelin
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / physiopathology
  • Leptin / physiology
  • Obesity / genetics*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Peptide Hormones / physiology
  • alpha-MSH / physiology


  • Ghrelin
  • Leptin
  • Peptide Hormones
  • alpha-MSH