What is meant by eating behaviors?

The term "eating behaviors" is an umbrella term that encompasses aspects such as food selection and motivations, feeding habits, dieting, and eating behavior-related concerns such as obesity and eating disorders. Eating behavior is influenced by various psychological, sociological, cultural, environmental, and economic elements. 

The different kinds of eating behaviors

Fuel eating behavior

When we have a diet that supports our bodies and their demands, we are said to be fueling our bodies. Eating authentic, natural, processed foods gives us energy and nutrition while also making us feel good.

Fun eating behavior

Fun eating behavior is defined as a diet that one enjoys or tastes good but does not generally provide nutritional value. Candy, cake, potato chips, and so on.

Fog eating behavior

Fog eating occurs when someone eats without realizing it. Snacking on chips without enjoying them or finishing a bag of candies without realizing how much was consumed and having no idea what it tasted like. Fog eating isn’t fun or planned; it’s an unintentional snack that we’re not even aware of.

Storm eating behavior

Storm eating behavior is called “binge eating” or “uncontrollable eating”. It’s whenever a person can’t stop themselves. They are aware that they are eating and wish to quit, but they feel unable to do so or lack self-control. Binge eating occurs when we allow ourselves to become overly hungry, and it also occurs when we are confronted with extreme emotions that we do not like to experience.

Disordered eating

Prohibitive eating, obsessive eating, and inconsistent or rigid eating patterns are all examples of disordered eating. One of the most common kinds of disordered eating is dieting.

Factors that regulate eating behaviors

A variety of factors influence eating behaviors, including the internal conditions of the body such as hunger or satiety and health, the taste of food, mood, and the environment in which a person exists.


Hunger is a natural feeling that causes people to have a desire to eat something. Some people become disoriented or irritable when they are hungry. The hypothalamus, blood sugar concentrations, how empty our intestines and stomach are, and specific hormonal changes in our body play a role in hunger.


The sensation of being fulfilled is known as satiety. This sensation usually causes people to quit eating and not worry about their diet for many hours. The hypothalamus, blood glucose, and the presence of food in the stomach and intestine all play a role in feeling full.


Appetite is a craving for food triggered by the sight, smell, and thought of food. Even when we are full, our appetite might cause us to consume more. It can also prevent us from consuming despite our hunger. It could happen if we are tired or under stress.


Taste influences diet preferences and consumption, affecting eating behaviors directly. Taste is influenced by the intensity of taste papillae on the tongue, genetic differences in taste receptors or responsiveness of taste receptor cells, saliva components, and other variables.

The neuronal control of eating behaviors

In the brain, eating behaviors are controlled by the hypothalamus, parietal and visual cortices, and emotion and memory systems such as the amygdala and hippocampus.

The hypothalamus, particularly the lateral hypothalamic region (LHA), regulates the internal conditions in order to sustain energy intake and homeostasis. The amygdala is the major brain region that controls appetite and emotional responses.

The hypothalamus gets input from the digestive tract through the autonomic nervous system and the lower brain stem. The hypothalamus also gets information from the reward and emotion systems. The orexigenic neurotransmitters in the hypothalamus promote appetite, whereas the anorexigenic neurotransmitters reduce hunger. 

Appetite-related parts of hypothalamus

The arcuate nucleus

The arcuate nucleus is a structure found at the foot of the hypothalamus. This has a dense population of neurons that create orexigenic peptides, NPY (neuropeptide Y), opioids, endorphin, amino acids, glutamate, and other compounds.

Ventromedial nucleus and lateral hypothalamus

Any lesion in these areas causes additional hunger and unhealthy body weight. That lasts for a long time. These locations are said to have a “satiety center” that keeps the eating behaviors under control.

Dorsomedial nucleus

When these regions are infused with orexigenic signals, they cause excessive eating or binge eating.

Paraventricular nucleus and perifornical hypothalamus

The paraventricular nucleus and perifornical hypothalamus are in charge of ingestive behavior. It is active when orexigenic signals, including NPY (neuropeptide Y), GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), opioids, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, are administered, leading to binge eating. When anorexigenic signals such as CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone) and leptin are delivered into this area, it leads to a reduction in eating.

Suprachiasmatic nucleus

The suprachiasmatic nucleus regulates the majority of the natural circadian cycles. Appetite triggers the desire to eat. This is dependent on how the light-dark cycle is perceived.

Hormonal control of eating behaviors

Ghrelin and leptin are the two hormones most intimately involved with energy homeostasis, which leads to feelings of hunger and satiety. Any abnormalities in these hormones cause eating disorders.


Ghrelin is a hormone generated mostly by the stomach and secreted in lesser amounts by the small intestine, pancreas, and brain. Because it enhances appetite, boosts food intake, and encourages fat storage, it is known as the “hunger hormone.” It travels via the circulation and affects the hypothalamus, a brain region that regulates appetite.


Leptin is a hormone secreted by fat cells in adipose tissues and transmits information to the hypothalamus, which is located in the brain. The satiety hormone is known as leptin. It aids in the suppression of hunger and the regulation of energy balance, ensuring that the body does not elicit hunger reactions when it is not in need of energy. When levels of the hormone decline, as they do when a person loses body weight, the lower levels can cause a massive rise in hunger and diet desires. As a result, fat loss may be more difficult. 

The hormonal control of eating behavior is shown in the figure.

Eating disorders

Obesity and eating disorders are both linked to serious physical and mental health problems, and people who have both are at a greater risk. Obesity, on the other hand, can lead to eating disorders and eating disorders lead to obesity. Obesity is a growing concern worldwide, and the world health organization labeled obesity a worldwide health crisis in 2003.

Anorexia nervosa

People with anorexia nervosa obsess about their weight and what they consume. Anorexia is marked by a distorted body appearance and an unfounded fear of obesity. They may avoid eating or constantly exercising, especially in front of others. They lose a lot of weight and may even starve to death as a result.

Bulimia nervosa

Individuals with bulimia nervosa, unlike anorexics, eat a tremendous amount of food and then expel it, frequently in secret.

Binge eating disorders

Individuals with binge eating disorders, like those with bulimia, usually engage in uncontrollable eating.

The treatment for behavioral eating disorders

Treatment for behavioral eating disorders is determined by the nature of the condition and its manifestations. Eating disorder treatment usually consists of a mix of psychological counseling (psychotherapy), diet instruction, health monitoring, and, in certain cases, medication.

The most crucial treatment for eating disorders is psychological therapy, which is meeting with a psychologist or another mental health expert on a routine basis. It can assist in the following areas: Normalizing eating behaviors like binge eating and achieving a healthy body weight, and changing bad habits for good ones. Learn how to keep track of our food and moods, among other things.

When medications are used in conjunction with psychological therapy, they are most successful. The most prevalent drugs used to treat behavioral eating disorders are antidepressants. Antidepressants can also treat depression and anxiety symptoms that are common in eating disorders.

Context and Applications

This topic is significant in the exams of school, graduate, and post-graduate levels especially for bachelors in zoology/psychology and masters in zoology/ psychology.

Practice Problems

Question 1: People with………… obsess about their weight and what they consume?

  1. Anorexia nervosa
  2. Bulimia nervosa
  3. Obesity
  4. None of the above

Answer: Option 1 is correct.

Explanation: People with anorexia nervosa obsess about their weight and what they consume.

Question 2: Which hormone is responsible for the suppression of hunger?

  1. Ghrelin
  2. adrenaline
  3. Leptin
  4. None of the above

Answer: Option 3 is correct.

Explanation: Leptin is the satiety hormone

Question 3: Which of the following releases the leptin hormone?

  1. Stomach
  2. Intestine
  3. Adipose tissue
  4. Brain

Answer: Option 3 is correct.

Explanation: Leptin is secreted by fat cells in adipose tissues.

Question 4: Which of the following are involved in eating disorders?

  1. Anorexia nervosa
  2. Bulimia nervosa
  3. Binge eating disorder
  4. All of the above

Answer: Option 4 is correct.

Explanation: The above given are included in unhealthy eating disorders.

Question 5: In which of the following areas is the satiety center located?

  1. Arcuate nucleus
  2. Dorsomedial nucleus
  3. Ventromedial nucleus and lateral hypothalamus
  4. None of the above

Answer: Option 3 is correct.

Explanation: Ventromedial nucleus and lateral hypothalamus are said to have a satiety center that keeps the eating behaviors under control.

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