Programming of energy balance regulation and control of satiety

Obesity adversely impacts on health, presenting a major cost to the NHS, so that decreasing its incidence is a major public health priority. Part of my research programme investigates how early life nutrition programmes adult predisposition to obesity while part aims to identify food components that are naturally satiating and thereby prevent overconsumption of calories. Developing an animal model of macronutrient-induced satiety is enabling us to quantify responses and elucidate underlying mechanisms, thus providing a scientific evidence base for follow-on human studies.

This research will ultimately contribute towards informed dietary advice for healthy weight management and decreasing incidence of obesity.

Research Focus

Regulation of appetite and body weight is clearly defective in obesity and we need to understand the underlying homeostatic feedback mechanisms. The central energy balance regulatory pathways in the brain respond to hormones such as leptin and insulin that signal overall nutritional status and body fat reserves as well as to hormones from the gut that signal satiety and intake of food. My laboratory recently investigated how nutritional history and obesity affect the brain’s sensitivity to leptin and insulin. Studies are continuing to investigate how the central energy balance regulatory pathways are programmed by an individual’s prenatal nutritional history and birth weight, which can have a profound influence on adult body weight and adiposity. An additional new approach is to examine how different foods differentially stimulate gut satiety hormone secretion, which consequently influences appetite, food consumption, body weight and body composition. Current research is investigating how specific dietary macronutrients affect gut physiology and satiety hormone output, so that we may ultimately be able to recommend appropriate foods or food formulations for healthy bodyweight management and prevention of obesity.


Adam, C.L., Bake, T., Findlay, P.A., Milne, J.S., Aitken, R.P., Wallace, J.M. (2013) “Impact of birth weight and gender on early postnatal hypothalamic energy balance regulatory gene expression in the young lamb.” International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, 31 (7), pp608–615

Wallace JM, Milne JS, Aitken RP, Adam CL (2013) “Impact of embryo donor adiposity, birth weight and gender on early postnatal growth, glucose metabolism and body composition in the young lamb.” Reproduction, Fertility and Development. E-pub ahead of print, 29 May 2013.

Adam, C.L., Findlay, P.A., Aitken, R.P., Milne, J.S., Wallace, J.M. (2012) “In Vivo changes in central and peripheral insulin sensitivity in a large animal model of obesity.” Endocrinology, 153 (7) pp3147-315

Adam, C.L., Bake, T., Findlay, P.A., Milne, J.S., Aitken, R.P., Wallace, J.M. (2011) “Effects of altered glucose supply and adiposity on expression of hypothalamic energy balance regulatory genes in late gestation growth restricted ovine foetuses.” International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, 29(7)  pp. 775-781

Miller, D.W., Bennett, E., Harrison, J.L., Findlay, P.A., Adam, C.L. (2011) “Adiposity and plane of nutrition influence reproductive neuroendocrine and appetite responses to intracerebroventricular insulin and neuropeptide-Y in sheep. Reproduction Fertility and Development, 23 (2) pp.329-338

Adam. C.L., Findlay, P.A. (2010) “Decreased blood-brain leptin transfer in an ovine model of obesity and weight loss: resolving the case of leptin resistance.” International Journal of Obesity, 34(6) pp. 980-988

Additional Activities

Research briefs for the Knowledge Scotland web site