Excessive intake of food, especially palatable and energy-dense carbohydrates and fats, is largely responsible for the growing incidence of obesity worldwide. Although there are a number of candidate antiobesity drugs, only a few of them have been proven able to inhibit appetite for palatable foods without the concurrent reduction in regular food consumption. In this review, we discuss the interrelationships between homeostatic and hedonic food intake control mechanisms in promoting overeating with palatable foods and assess the potential usefulness of systemically administered pharmaceuticals that impinge on the endogenous cannabinoid, opioid, aminergic, cholinergic, and peptidergic systems in the modification of food preference behavior. Also, certain dietary supplements with the potency to reduce specifically palatable food intake are presented. Based on human and animal studies, we indicate the most promising therapies and agents that influence the effectiveness of appetite-modifying drugs. It should be stressed, however, that most of the data included in our review come from preclinical studies; therefore, further investigations aimed at confirming the effectiveness and safety of the aforementioned medications in the treatment of obese humans are necessary.
Keywords: Antiobesity therapy, cannabinoids, food preferences, neuropeptides, neurotransmitters, opioids.