Body fat mass increases when energy intake exceeds energy expenditure. In the long term, a positive energy balance will result in obesity. The worldwide prevalence of obesity has increased dramatically, posing a serious threat to human health. Therefore, insight in the pathogenesis of obesity is important to identify novel prevention and treatment strategies. This review describes the physiology of energy expenditure and energy intake in the context of body weight gain in humans. We focus on the components of energy expenditure and the regulation of energy intake. Finally, we describe rare monogenetic causes leading to an impairment in central regulation of food intake and obesity.