Effects of estradiol on food intake and meal patterns for diets that differ in flavor and fat content

Physiol Behav. 2010 Jan 12;99(1):142-5. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2009.10.009.


Apart from the well known inhibitory effects of estradiol on food intake, meal size, and body weight in female rats that have been documented over the past thirty years, a more recent report presents the opposite finding; that a large dose of estradiol can increase food intake and weight gain in gonadally intact female rats presented with a palatable diet. The purpose of the present experiment was to further examine this hypothesis by evaluating the ability of estradiol to influence feeding behavior in ovariectomized rats presented with diets that differ in flavor and fat content. Female rats were given a cyclic regimen of estradiol benzoate treatment (5.0 or 20.0 microg) or the oil vehicle and were presented with the standard chow diet or a diet with a higher fat content and chocolate flavor. Food intake, meal size, and meal number were monitored three days after the first injection of estradiol or oil. Compared to the chow diet, food intake increased when animals had access to the chocolate/fat diet during the vehicle treatment condition. Both doses of estradiol significantly decreased food intake, meal size, and body weight gain when animals were presented with either the standard chow diet or the chocolate/fat diet. These findings indicate that estradiol does not stimulate the intake of a palatable diet in ovariectomized rats, and suggest that previous results showing that estradiol enhanced eating and weight gain stemmed from a disruption of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis when intact females received a large dose of exogenous estradiol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drinking / drug effects
  • Eating / drug effects*
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Estrogens / pharmacology*
  • Feeding Behavior / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Flavoring Agents / pharmacology*
  • Food Preferences / drug effects*
  • Ovariectomy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans


  • Dietary Fats
  • Estrogens
  • Flavoring Agents
  • Estradiol