Central opioids and consumption of sweet tastants: when reward outweighs homeostasis

Physiol Behav. 2007 Aug 15;91(5):506-12. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2007.01.011. Epub 2007 Jan 30.


Numerous reports have described opioids as peptides involved in the regulation of food intake. The role of these endogenous substances appears to be linked with reward-dependent feeding, since injection of opioid receptor ligands alters consumption of palatable foods and solutions more readily than of non-palatable ones, and intake of such tastants affects the activity of the opioid system within the brain. Among a variety of available foods, those rich in sucrose and other sweet tastants, are extremely appealing to humans and laboratory animals. In the current review, we focus on the rewarding aspects of consummator behavior driven by opioids. We attempt to delineate opioid-dependent central mechanisms responsible for overconsumption of "rewarding" palatable diets, especially foods high in sugar that can potentially jeopardize homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Eating / psychology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Opioid Peptides / physiology*
  • Reward*
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Taste / physiology*


  • Opioid Peptides
  • Sweetening Agents