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Neural centers in the hypothalamus regulate food intake and body weight in response to hormones and other neural stimuli, and dysfunctional communication between the brain and gut underlies metabolic disorders, including obesity. In this issue of the JCI, Steculorum and colleagues present evidence that the gastric peptide ghrelin mediates neural fiber growth in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus during the neonatal period. Neonatal mice subjected to either increased or decreased ghrelin action during this developmental period had an increased risk of obesity in adulthood. Together, the results of this study support a model whereby neural organization at key stages of development sets the foundation for metabolic health later in life.