The Science of Fat: Appetite, Eating Disorders, and the Reward System

We are living in an image-conscious world that urges all of us to improve our physical appearance. The ‘insights’ sent by television shows, magazines, and other certain types of media include purchasing certain health-related products, whitening teeth, losing weight, and getting rid of wrinkles to get a ‘perfect’ appearance that will make you feel admired and loved. The ongoing debate concerning unhealthy super-thin models in the modern fashion industry is an example of how deeply entrenched the notion of ‘body thinness equals happiness.’

To understand a healthy diet, it’s essential to understand the science of fat. Generally, the word ‘fat’ has a bad reputation, and for many reasons. Whether it’s body fat or fats in foods, today’s fat-phobic consumers have adopted the idea of ‘fat-free’ products with the mistaken notion that such products will free them from their body fat. But is this always the case? Let’s evaluate critical concepts under the science of fat to understand it better.


Appetite is distinct from hunger and encompasses more than just a biological urge to improve low blood sugar. It’s simply the desire to eat. Your relationship with food, nourishment, and pleasure exists in the gap between your biological hunger and your desire to eat. Indeed, it is a dynamic interplay between your senses, hormones, past experiences, habits, available food, and future expectations.

Accumulating scientific evidence suggests that a feasible approach to controlling appetite may be a generic meal replacement. In one study, it affected brain areas related to eating behavior, and this study could be practically helpful in obesity management.

Eating disorders

While many people benefit from eating less and exercising more to improve their overall health, simply paying attention to what you eat isn’t an eating disorder. Generally, eating disorders are potentially life-threatening conditions that are both physical and psychological in nature. They’re often characterized by abnormal and harmful eating practices (behaviors) accompanied by unhealthy perceptions, beliefs, and expectations concerning weight, appetite, eating, and body appearance.

The reward system

‘Reward,’ when it comes to consumption of fatty foods, is believed to compromise different psychological components known as ‘wanting’ and ‘liking.’ Liking is simply a reaction to the palatability of food (the pleasure of a reward) while ‘wanting’ is a more explicit and implicit motivational aspect of reward (the disposition to eat). Research suggests that the rewarding properties of food can easily override your essential satiation signals often generated in homeostatic centers.

Wrap up

The bottom line is that fats in foods drive different levels of appetite and everyone has a unique food reward system. Unfortunately, unhealthy beliefs about fats can cause eating disorders, which is why you must consult with a nutritionist before engaging in any specific type of fatty or ‘fat-free’ diet.