Allan Geliebter

Allan Geliebter, PhD

About Me

Allan Geliebter, PhD
Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Specialty: Obesity, food intake, eating disorders
Education: MA, Biology; PhD, Psychology; Columbia University
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Many of my studies have been on neurohormonal mechanisms that control food intake, especially the stomach’s role, and in translating that knowledge into treatment for obesity and eating disorders. We showed that distention of the stomach with an intragastric balloon to different volumes proportionately reduced ad libitum food intake in individuals with obesity and of normal weight. This led to the development of an intragastric balloon for treating obesity, first testing the concept in animals and then in humans.  We also developed a technique for measuring stomach capacity and showed that capacity is larger in those with obesity than in lean individuals, larger in those with binge eating than without binge eating, and largest of all in those with bulimia nervosa.  In those with both obesity and binge eating, we reported lower fasting levels of ghrelin, a gut peptide produced by the stomach, than in non-binge eaters.

With Gene-Jack Wang and Nora Volkow, we found with fMRI that gastric distention in humans activates the insula and amygdala.  After showing that individuals with obesity exhibit greater brain activation in reward areas in response to high calorie food stimuli, we demonstrated that following gastric bypass surgery, there was a marked reduction in reward activation to high calorie food stimuli.  More recently, we observed that alcohol use increases in patients with obesity 2 years post gastric bypass, perhaps to compensate for reduced food reward. In those with obesity and  binge eating, we also observed greater fMRI reward brain activation to food stimuli than in those with obesity without binge eating, and similarly with PET, we found that those with obesity and binge eating had greater striatal dopamine release than those with obesity without binge eating. 

New instruments have been developed along the way for measuring emotional eating, the Emotional Appetite Questionnaire (EMAQ) and for assessing night eating, the Night Eating Diagnostic Questionnaire (NEDQ).  A new area of interest has been environmental interventions to reduce obesity, and in a randomized controlled trial (RCT), we showed that implementing discounts of fruits and vegetables in a NY supermarket chain led to a three-fold increase in purchasing and a 50% increase in consumption, with a trend for weight loss. We received an R01 to extend this research. The research work has contributed to a better understanding of the stomach’s involvement in food intake, obesity, binge eating disorder, and bulimia nervosa, and to the development of a gastric balloon as an adjunct treatment modality for obesity.

Current Research
Conducting an NIH funded RCT on the effects of discounting (0, 15, 30%) fruits and vegetables and noncaloric beverages in a supermarket chain on food intake and health outcomes among overweight shoppers

Recently examined changes in food intake from preCOVID to during COVID in a subset of the participants in the above supermarket study.

Conducting neuroimaging studies using food images in an NIH funded study on protective  mechanisms in individuals of normal weight with a high genetic predisposition to obesity.

News Highlights
In a neuroimaging study, we found a reduction in reward activation to high-calorie food stimuli post bariatric surgery (Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy) compared to control nonsurgical groups.

We found greater intake of high energy foods during COVID compared to preCOVID in female participants in a supermarket study.

We showed that adolescents were more likely to be infected with COVID than  individuals >65 in 6 US states experiencing surges, contrary to the prevailing view.

Clinical Focus
Obesity and Obesity-Related Eating Disorders, especially Binge Eating Disorder and the Night Eating Syndrome

2005  Organizing Committee, Benjamin Franklin LaFayette Seminar, International Food Intake Meeting, Frejus, France, June, 2006.
2007  Fellow, The Obesity Society (formerly NAASO)
2006  Chair and Organizer, Latest Research Developments from the Drug and Food Industries Battling Obesity, Industry–Academia Exchange for SSIB Meeting, Steamboat Springs Colorado, July, 2007
2007  Invited organizer “Neuroimaging of the Stomach,” NIH Neuroimaging in Obesity Research, NIH Bethesda, MD, October 27-28, 2008
2008-11  Board of Directors, Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB)
2006-13  Organizing Committee, Benjamin Franklin Lafayette Symphagium, Frejus, France
2010  Fellow, American Psychological Society
2013  Presidential Invited Symposium on “New Insights into the Biology, Associated Psychopathology, and Prevention of Obesity” at the Eastern Psychological Association, New York, NY
2015  Science Unbound Award for Best Paper in 2014, August, 2015
2016  Obesity Society, Weight Watchers Karen Miller-Kovach Award, October, 2016
2017-20  Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Touro College and University Syst  New York, NY
2018  Hoebel Prize for Creativity, Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB)

> 170 publications   h-index = 60

5 Selected Publications

  • Geliebter A. Gastric distension and gastric capacity inrelation to food intake. Physiology and Behavior 1988; 44:665 668.
  • Geliebter A, Maher M, Gerace L, Gutin B, Heymsfield SB, Hashim SA.  Effects of strength or aerobic training on body composition, resting metabolic rate, and peak oxygen consumption in obese dieting subjects.  Am J Clin Nutr 1997;66:557-63.
  • Geliebter A, Gluck ME, Hashim SA. Plasma ghrelin concentrations are lower in binge-eating disorder. J Nutr  2005;135:1326-1330.
  • Ochner CN, Kwok Y, Conceição E, Pantazatos SP, Puma LM, Carnell S, Teixeira J, Hirsch J, Geliebter A. Selective reduction in neural responses to high-calorie foods following gastric bypass surgery. Annals of Surgery. 2011; 253(3):502-7.
  • Geliebter A, Ang IY, Bernales-Korins M, Hernandez D, Ochner CN, Ungredda T, Miller R, Kolbe L. Supermarket discounts of low energy-dense foods: Effects on purchasing, food intake, and body weight. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013 Apr 17.
    doi: 10.1002/oby.20484. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 23596089.
  • Complete List of Peer-Reviewed Published Journal Articles

    PROFESSOR | Psychiatry
    Hospital Affiliations
    • Mount Sinai Morningside
    Research Topics

    Addiction, Brain Imaging, Epidemiology, Genetics, MRI, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Neurobiology, Neuroscience, Obesity

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