Non-genetic causes of 
hard-to-control hunger and obesity


Non-genetic causes of hard-to-control hunger and obesity

While many people have problems with hunger and weight gain, in a very small number of people, hard-to-control hunger (hyperphagia) can be because of a problem in an area of their brain.

The key part of the brain that helps control your hunger is called the hypothalamus.
People may be born with a problem with the genes in the hypothalamus (you can learn more about the link between genes, hard-to-control hunger and obesity on this page.1

However, instead of a problem with their genes, people can have an accident or illness causing damage to the hypothalamus. This is a rare non-genetic cause of hard-to-control hunger and obesity, which doctors call acquired hypothalamic obesity.

If you or someone you care for have this you will likely already be looked after by a doctor for the injury or illness, and they will be able to advise you on the next steps.2


Guidance and support

Use our discussion guide to find out more about what you can do to manage hard-to-control hunger.

Discussion guide

This guide has been developed to support you in preparing for an appointment with your doctor or nurse so that you can talk openly about the impact of hard-to-control hunger and obesity and work with them to agree on the best care plan possible.


  • 1

    Fonseca ACP, et al. J Diabetes Complications. 2017; 31(10): 1549-1561

  • 2

    Kim JH, Choi JH. Ann Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2013; 18(4): 161-167