What is Set Point Theory? Definition, Theory and More

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2018. 3. 10.

Definition of Set Point Theory

SetPoint theory is defined as a range of weight
the body has to perform the best.
When trying to lose weight,
the body will fight to maintain the particular weight range.

Those seeking to lose weight as well as those suffering from eating disorders
may have trouble understanding the set point theory.

Ultimately
the set point is the weight range
in which your particular body is programmed
to function at its best.

The set point theory believes
 that a person’s body will fight to maintain
that particular weight range.

Every person, male or female,
has a set point, and
just as we do not have control over
our eye color, hair color or height,
we have no control over our set point.

How Does Your Brain Control Your Weight?

The body itself is genetically determined
to maintain a certain weight range.

The set point theory was first developed in 1982 by Gurin and Bennett
to explain why to repeat dieting from patients was unsuccessful
in producing long-term weight changes in a patient’s shape and overall weight.

Set points vary for each person.
Scientists believe that
the average person has a set point range of about ten to twenty pounds,
meaning that there is a range at which the body is comfortable and
will resist attempts to change that weight.

Anyone who has ever tried dieting will
know how hard it is to lose weight continuously.

This is why!
Known as plateaus,
this is typically a sign that
the body is attempting to fight to retain the weight it is.
Some people have a high setting and
some flat,
that’s why some people have a small frame,
medium and larger frame (big-boned).

Brain Thermostat:

When you go below your body’s particular set point,
both your metabolism and appetite adjust
to try to return you to that set point.

The metabolism will slow down to conserve energy.
The body will start to sense a semi-starvation state and
will attempt to use few calories it receives effectively.
The body may require more sleep;
the body temperature will drop, and
many women will lose their menstrual cycle.
This typically occurs when a woman’s weight becomes too low.
Her entire reproductive system will
shut down because her body cannot handle a pregnancy safely.

set point theory, From: Ethicon
From: Ethicon

Ultimately
when body fat is lost,
the appetite of the person losing weight will increase.
Many individuals who diet will also experience
the urge to binge eat.
This is because
the body is asking for more food
that is being provided to function well.

Just as the metabolism is slowed
when you get to a set point,
it will increase if you go over it.

The body will continue to try
to fight against weight gain
by increasing the total metabolic rate and
raising the temperature of the body
to help burn off any unwanted calories.
The set point theory can be both good and bad for dieters.

There is no test that
helps someone determine what their body’s natural set point is.
However, finding a set point
for those who have dieted for an extended period
may not be tough.

For dieters,
it’s important to accept the fact that
the body needs to be at a particular weight
to stop the dieting cycle.
The more that someone tries to go below this set point range,
the harder the body will fight to retain its natural weight.



Ultimately,
your individual body is a result of three factors: 
individual genetic makeup
behavioral and 
environmental factors.  

Because of the physiological factors,
obesity doesn’t have to be cyclical.
A recent study by The New England Journal of Medicine,
by the 95% of obese people who lose weight
with a rigorous weight-loss program
will regain the weight (or more)
within two to five years.

(Click here to view a shocking article about weight gain
 in Biggest Loser contestants after leaving the show
)

Weight Loss Surgery 
Changes Body Weight Set Point

Based on the Metabolic Set Point Theory of Homeostasis,
the body has a tendency to
maintain a particular weight range, and
it adjusts the complex regulatory network accordingly.

If your weight changes,
the metabolism speeds up or
slows down to compensate for that.

Bariatric procedure is the most effective long-term treatment for obesity,
whereas non-surgical dietary weight loss options are not long-term.

Until recently,
it was assumed that
the restriction produced by weight loss surgery
(Gastric BypassGastric Sleeve Gastrectomy, and Lapband) is
responsible for mechanically restricting the amount of food a patient can eat.

More recent explanation of the mechanism
by which weight loss surgery works
is “physiologic.”

In bariatric surgery,
the body accepts a lower weight as its “set-point.”
It adjusts the internal body processes that
control hunger and metabolic rate.

Basically, bariatric surgery changes body’s set point and
shift your neuro-hormonal axis to a lower weight and
give you a second chance.
See Bariatric Surgery Options

Learn more about undergoing weight loss surgery 
by visiting the major surgeries: gastric sleeve and gastric bypass.

References:

https://medical.mit.edu/sites/default/files/set_point_theory.pdf
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2253845
https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa021423
https://www.ethicon.com/healthcare-professionals/specialties/obesity/obesity-overview#!causes