Various researches are going on around the globe to find out an intriguing mechanism that regulates the bodyweight system.

In an investigation that was carried out by the researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), a new model of physiological body weight regulation has been established.

January 09 issue of Cell Metabolism carried the report of the researchers, which said that instead of a single “set point,” there might be many steady states around which an animal’s body weight changes.

The lead author of the study, Joshua Tam, is a doctoral student while working at the Steele Laboratory in the MGH Department of Radiation Oncology. Tam reported, “There are problems with both of the current hypotheses for how the body balances energy intake and expenditure to maintain a stable weight,” and added “While our model has its own limitations if it holds up, it may help us better understand the body’s system for weight regulation.

”The human body is very well known for its tendency to stay at the same weight even when there is a change in the diet or in the physical activity levels. This tendency of humans and other mammals resulted in the development of a “set point” hypothesis, which establishes that the weight at which body establishes itself opposes any activity that results in the change in body metabolism.

The obvious opposition to the above “set point” hypothesis provides that such a behavior of the body would not allow anybody to turn obese. They thus argue that external factors are the ones that would determine the body’s ‘settling point.”

These external factors are like the kind of food available and behavioral factors like physical activity levels rather than the internal ones. However, this theory also has its own limitations where somebody with access to an only low-calorie diet may consume much more and compensate to reach the established body weight.

The new model developed by Tam focuses on control pathway by leptin, the hormone that plays a key role in the regulation of body metabolism. The equations used by Tam included aspects from both the “set point” and the “settling point” theories.

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Under his theory, the set-point-maintaining signals became active when the level of leptin dropped within somebody. At normal leptin levels, the fluctuation in the bodyweight depended on the food intake and the physical activity level of the individuals.

The model predicted a reduction and maintenance of lower body weight only if the leptin levels could be brought down below the tipping point in the resistant animals.

The model thus takes care of both kinds of individuals, the leptin-sensitive ones who maintain a steady weight and the leptin-resistant who are not able to achieve and maintain weight loss despite whatever efforts they make for it.

“If human body weight exhibits the multi-steady-state phenomenon that our model predicts, and if methods could be developed – either drugs or lifestyle changes – to ease the transition between those states, it may be possible to develop new therapies to help reduce body weight and sustain those changes,” says Tam.


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