Food Restriction Increases Dopamine Receptors -- Linked to Pleasure -- In Rats:
"A brain-imaging study of genetically obese rats conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory provides more evidence that dopamine - a brain chemical associated with reward, pleasure, movement, and motivation - plays a role in obesity. The scientists found that genetically obese rats had lower levels of dopamine D2 receptors than lean rats. They also demonstrated that restricting food intake can increase the number of D2 receptors, partially attenuating a normal decline associated with aging.
It's not clear whether reduced receptor levels are a cause or consequence of obesity: Overeating may chronically reduce receptor levels, which, over the long term, could eventually contribute to obesity. But having genetically low receptor levels may also lead to obesity by predisposing the individual to overeating in an attempt to stimulate a "blunted" reward system. Either way, revving up receptor levels by restricting food intake could enhance the impact of this common strategy for combating obesity."