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Summary Hunger
  1. The lateral hypothalamus is involved in recognizing hunger. In rats, damage to the lateral hypothalamus results in loss of interest in eating.
  2. The ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus is involved in recognizing satiety or fullness. In rats, damage to the ventromedial nucleus results in excessive eating and weight gain.
  3. The paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus is also involved in hunger regulation. When the paraventricular nucleus of a rat is damaged, the rat will eat a very large quantity of food at each meal.

The Digestive System

The digestive system influences hunger in several ways. For instance, after a meal, the stomach and intestines send nerve impulses to the brain to help people recognize that they are full.

The body converts food to glucose, a simple sugar that acts as an energy source for cells. The level of glucose in the blood affects hunger. Low blood glucose increases hunger; high blood glucose decreases hunger.


The hormone insulin also plays an important role in regulating hunger. Insulin allows cells to access glucose in the blood. When the pancreas secretes insulin, hunger increases.

Diabetes is a condition caused by a deficiency of insulin. People who have diabetes take injections of insulin. Without these injections, their cells would be unable to use the glucose in their blood.

Another hormone involved in hunger regulation is leptin. Fat cells in the body secrete leptin and release it into the blood. When the leptin level in the blood is high, hunger decreases.

Environmental Factors

Many environmental factors influence hunger, including the availability of rich foods, taste preferences, habits, memory, stress, and cultural attitudes.

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