Our understanding of the physiological systems that regulate food intake and body weight has increased immensely over the past decade. Brain centres, including the hypothalamus, brainstem and reward centres, signal via neuropeptides which regulate energy homeostasis. Insulin and hormones synthesized by adipose tissue reflect the long-term nutritional status of the body and are able to influence these circuits. Circulating gut hormones modulate these pathways acutely and result in appetite stimulation or satiety effects. This review discusses central neuronal networks and peripheral signals which contribute energy homeostasis, and how a loss of the homeostatic process may result in obesity. It also considers future therapeutic targets for the treatment of obesity.