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Set Point

The Metabolic Set-Point

There are several factors that play a role in an individual becoming obese. A few important ones are an individual’s genetic makeup, the environment and behavioral choices.

Body weight and fat levels are regulated by a complex system of signals in the body. These signals control appetite, digestion, energy balance and metabolism to keep body weight and fat at a steady level or “set point.”

New science shows that for some people, their weight-regulating system becomes dysfunctional. Once they gain weight, this weight-regulating dysfunction makes it very difficult to lose weight and/or keep lost weight off. A starvation-type defensive mechanism, involving gut hormones and neuronal signals, is activated to maintain their new, higher weight. This defensive action presents a challenge for obese individuals trying to lose weight or keep lost weight off. Changes in the chemicals and nutrients contained in our foods can affect our brains in ways that increase the amount we eat.

Everyone’s set point is different and an individual’s set point can change over time. It appears that the body regulates fat set points similarly to how it regulates other body functions such as blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure.

Source: Ethicon