Impaired Control of Appetite for Carbohydrates in Some Patients with Eating Disorders: Treatment with Pharmacologic Agents

  • J. J. Wurtman
  • R. J. Wurtman


The ability of animals or humans to control their consumption of energy in proportion to energy use has been recognized for some time (Kissileff and Van Itallie 1982). Less attention has been given to their ability to regulate intake of specific macronutrients. Although the roles of protein, carbohydrate, and fat in the body have been described and the amount of these nutrients needed daily has been established, consumption of foods has largely been regarded as motivated solely by the individual’s need for energy. For example, if an animal given rat chow diluted 50% with fat (so that it now contains only half as much protein or carbohydrate per gram), elects to eat abnormally large amounts of this food, the overconsumption is generally interpreted as reflecting an inability to control energy intake in the presence of a high-fat diet (Kissileff and Van Itallie 1982). The possibility that the animal is eating more of the food in order to consume a desired amount of protein or carbohydrate by consuming quantities large enough to compensate for the dilution of one or the other nutrient is usually not considered.


Eating Disorder Ketogenic Diet Carbohydrate Intake Snack Food Brain Serotonin 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Carmel N, Koijn A, Kaufman N, Guggenheim K (1979) Effects of carbohydrate-free diets on the insulin-carbohydrate relationships in rats. J Nutr 105: 1141–1149Google Scholar
  2. Fernstrom JD, Wurtman RJ (1972) Brain serotonin content: physiological regulation by plasma neutral amino acids. Science 178: 414–416PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Fernstrom JD, Wurtman RJ, Hammarstrom-Wiklund B, Rand WM, Munro HN, Davidson CS (1979) Diurnal variations in plasma concentrations of tryptophan, tyrosine, and other neutral amino acids: effect of dietary protein intake. Am J Clin Nutr 32: 1912–1922PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Grinker J, Price J, Greenwood M (1976) Studies of taste in childhood obesity. In: Novin D, Wyrwicka W, Bray G (eds) Hunger, basic mechanisms and clinical implications. Raven, New York, pp 441–457Google Scholar
  5. Heraief E, Burckhardt P, Mauron C, Wurtman J, Wurtman R (1983) Obesity and its dietary treatment may suppress synthesis of brain serotonin. J Neural Transm 57: 187–195PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Kissileff H, Van Itallie T (1982) Physiology of the control of food intake. Annu Rev Nutr 2: 371–418.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Le Magnen J (1967) Habits and food intake. In: Code CF (ed) The alimentary canal. American Physiological Society, Washington DC, pp 11–30 (Handbook of physiology, section 6 )Google Scholar
  8. Musten B, Peace D, Anderson GH (1974) Food intake regulation in the weanling rat: self-selection of protein and energy. J Nutr 104: 563–572PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Pfaffman C (1977) Biological and behavioral substrates of the sweet tooth. In: Weiffenback JM (ed) Taste and development: the genesis of sweet preference. US Government Printing Office, Washington DC, pp 3–24Google Scholar
  10. Schemmel R, Hu D, Mickelson O, Romsos D (1982) Dietary obesity in rats: influence on carbohydrate metabolism. J Nutr 112: 223–230PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Unger R, Eisentraut A, Madison L (1963) The effects of total starvation upon the levels of circulating glucagon and insulin in man. J Clin Invest 42: 1031–1039PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Wurtman JJ (1983) The carbohydrate craver’s diet. Chapter 1: Carbohydrate craving. Houghton-Mifflin, Boston, pp 1–15Google Scholar
  13. Wurtman JJ, Wurtman RJ (1979a) Fenfluramine and other serotoninergic drugs depress food intake and carbohydrate consumption while sparing protein consumption. Curr Med Res Opin 6: 28–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Wurtman JJ, Wurtman RJ (1979b) Drugs that enhance central serotoninergic transmission diminish elective carbohydrate consumption by rats. Life Sci 24: 895–904PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Wurtman J J, Wurtman RJ (1981) Suppression of carbohydrate consumption as snacks and at mealtime by dl-fenfluramine or tryptophan. In: Garrattini S (ed) Anorectic agents: mechanisms of actions and of tolerance. Raven, New York, pp 169–182Google Scholar
  16. Wurtman JJ, Wurtman RJ, Growdon JH, Henry P, Lipscomb A, Zeisel S (1981) Carbohydrate craving in obese people: suppression by treatments affecting serotoninergic transmission. Int J Eating Dis 1: 2–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Wurtman JJ, Moses PL, Wurtman RJ (1983) Prior carbohydrate consumption affects the amount of carbohydrate that rats choose to eat. J Nutr 113: 70–78PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Wurtman RJ (1983) Behavioral effects of nutrients. Lancet 1: 1145–1147PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. J. Wurtman
  • R. J. Wurtman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Nutrition and Food ScienceMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations