Achim Peters

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Achim Peters (2011)

Achim Peters (* 1957 in Dortmund ) is a German obesity specialist. He developed the selfish brain theory and heads the clinical research group "Selfish Brain: Brain Glucose and Metabolic Syndrome" , which has existed since 2004 and is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) .


Peters attended the Humboldt Gymnasium in Dortmund until he graduated from high school in 1976. In the same year he began studying medicine at the Ruhr University in Bochum ; later he moved to the Medical University of Lübeck . In 1977 he won the federal mathematics competition of the Stifterverband für die deutsche Wissenschaft. A scholarship from the German National Academic Foundation was associated with this success . In 1983, Peters completed his studies with a license to practice medicine and a doctorate (at the Institute for Anatomy, Bochum ).

In 1984 Peters joined the Clinic for Internal Medicine at the University of Lübeck. From 1986 to 1989 a postdoctoral fellowship from the DFG took him to the Hospital for the Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, where he did research on “Control Theory in Diabetes Mellitus”. In the following years, Peters specialized in internal medicine in the areas of endocrinology and diabetology . In 1993 he became senior physician at the Clinic for Internal Medicine at the University of Lübeck.

In 1996 he completed his habilitation in Lübeck and received the Venia Legendi for internal medicine. He received the Silvia King Prize from the German Diabetes Society for his habilitation thesis on the regulatory theory of diabetes mellitus . In 2000 he became an adjunct professor at the University of Lübeck. In 2002 he was promoted to senior physician in charge of the endocrinology and diabetology department at the Schleswig-Holstein University Medical Center . In 2004, Peters became head of the DFG- funded clinical research group "Selfish Brain: Brain Glucose and Metabolic Syndrome". In 2006 the University of Lübeck appointed him W2 professor for internal medicine / endocrinology and diabetology, initially for six years and in 2009 for life. In 2008 he was accepted as a Member of the Faculty of 1000 Biology.

Peters lives in Lübeck .

Research focus: Selfish brain theory and obesity

In 1998 Achim Peters designed the basic model of the selfish brain theory and formulated its axioms. In his presentation of the Selfish-Brain-Theory (2004) he is based on approx. 5000 published data sets of the “classical” endocrinology-diabetology and modern neurosciences, but argues mathematically with the help of differential equations as well as system theory. This is a new methodological approach in obesity research and diabetology; in this respect, the selfish brain theory represents a paradigm shift.

The Selfish-Brain-Theory states that the human brain primarily covers its own, comparatively high demand when it regulates the energy supply of the organism. In this respect, the brain behaves "selfishly". selfish .

In the cerebral hemispheres, the organ of integration of the entire central nervous system, the theory situates the control loop of an "energy-on-demand" system with which the ATP concentration of the neurons is kept at a high level. In healthy people, this goal is achieved through the allocation of energy from the body.

The Selfish-Brain-Theory represents a further development of existing theories about the organization of the energy supply of the human organism. Blood sugar and fat regulation cycles are understood as a complex for the regulation of food intake, which is controlled from a hypothalamic core area. The “energy-on-demand” system for supplying energy to the brain is viewed as a higher-level entity than that which influences the control organs of the blood sugar and fat regulation system.

The development of obesity (severe and pathological form of obesity) can be explained as an allocation failure using the Selfish Brain theory. Instead of requesting energy from the body, energy is supplied in the form of food. This leads to an energetic 'congestion in the supply chain', which leads from the environment through the body to the brain as the largest end consumer. The possible causes for this are localized in impairments of the amygdala, the hippocampus or the hypothalamus - brain regions which control the blood sugar and fat regulation and which, for various reasons, cannot correctly process the signals from the cerebral hemispheres for the energy supply of the brain.

The selfish brain theory was substantiated in key points by the DFG- funded clinical research group "Selfish Brain: Brain Glucose and Metabolic Syndrome" through experimental procedures with healthy and sick test subjects.


  • 1977 national winner in the national mathematics competition
  • 1997 Silvia King Prize of the German Diabetes Society

Publications (selection)

  • Structural changes in bone and in skeletal cells of the bone marrow in rats after chronic treatment with tiloron. Dissertation, University of Kiel, 1985.
  • Analytical design and clinical application of an adaptive control system for pharmacotherapy with insulin. Habilitation thesis, University of Lübeck, 1996.
  • With Ulrich Schweiger and Valerija Sipos: Eating disorders. Thieme, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-13-128221-5 .
  • With others: The selfish brain: competition for energy resources. In: Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. Vol. 28, H. 2, April 2004, pp. 143-180, doi: 10.1016 / j.neubiorev.2004.03.002 , PMID 15172762 .
  • With Sebastian Junge: the selfish brain. Why our head sabotages diets and fights against our own body. Ullstein, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-550-08854-4 , 330 pages.
  • Overweight myth: Why fat people live longer. What weight has to do with stress - surprising findings from brain research. Bertelsmann, Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-570-10149-0 , 272 pages.
  • Uncertainty. The feeling of our time. And what helps us against stress and specific insecurity. Bertelsmann, Munich 2018, ISBN 978-3-570-10343-2 , 432 pages.


  • Beatrice Wagner: egoism of the brain causes diabetes. In: Welt am Sonntag . August 10, 2008.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Appointments - Medical Section , website of the University of Lübeck, accessed on January 6, 2015.