Dr. Alfred Frohlich from the University of Vienna first began to unravel the neuro-hormonal basis of obesity in 1890. He described a young boy with the sudden onset of obesity who was eventually diagnosed with a lesion in the hypothalamus area of the brain. It would be later confirmed that hypothalamic damage resulted in intractable weight gain in humans, establishing this region as a key regulator of energy balance.
In rats and other animals, hypothalamic injury could experimentally produce insatiable appetites and induce obesity. But, researchers quickly noticed something else, too. All these obese animals shared characteristic liver damage, which was occasionally severe enough progress to complete destruction. Looking back at hereditarily obese strains of mice, they noted the same liver changes. Strange, they thought. What does the liver have to do with obesity? Continue Reading →