Sunday, September 27, 2009

set point theory (m)

I am on the Board of Directors at one of the top medical schools in the country.  As a result, I receive regular news bulletins about the latest scientific discoveries.  I understand very little of what's written in these reports.

There was, however, one recent article which, not only did I understand, I actually could have written for them.  It had to do with mice and obesity.  The title of the article was something like: Obesity:  Is there a Second Set Point?

In humans, a "set point" is the weight which your body is biologically and genetically determined to weigh (within a certain range).    So, for me, that would be about 140  pounds.  For most of my adult life, I had been at this level.  I'd have to starve myself and/or exercise like crazy to get below this range.

Back to the mice.  The scientists started by weighing each one to determine their normal weight (set point #1). Then, they gave them as much food as they could eat.  The mice stuffed themselves with abandon and reached a new level where their weight eventually topped off.  Even though they could keep eating, they didn't gain significantly more weight.   Instead,  they pretty much stayed at this new, higher level.  This was "set point 2" for the mice.

Why am I telling you this?  Because, today, I weighed myself for the first time in a long time and weigh exactly the same as I did the last time I joined Weight Watchers, 15 years ago.  Voila.....set point #2.

Now, the good news is that the mice lost weight and went back to their original weights (set point #1) when they were deprived of the all -you -can -eat -mice -buffet.

The bad news is that I can't talk to the mice and ask them how they felt on their diets.

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