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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Set points, settling points and some alternative models: theoretical options to understand how genes and environments combine to regulate body adiposity
Authors: Speakman, John R
Levitsky, David A
Allison, David B
Bray, Molly S
de, Castro John M
Clegg, Deborah J
Clapham, John C
Dulloo, Abdul G
Gruer, Laurence
Haw, Sally
Hebebrand, Johannes
Hetherington, Marion M
Higgs, Susanne
Jebb, Susan A
Loos, Ruth J F
Luckman, Simon
Luke, Amy
Mohammed-Ali, Vidya
O'Rahilly, Stephen
Pereira, Mark
Perusse, Louis
Robinson, Tom N
Rolls, Barbara
Symonds, Michael E
Westerterp-Plantenga, Margriet S
Contact Email:
Issue Date: Nov-2011
Publisher: The Company of Biologists
Citation: Speakman JR, Levitsky DA, Allison DB, Bray MS, de Castro JM, Clegg DJ, Clapham JC, Dulloo AG, Gruer L, Haw S, Hebebrand J, Hetherington MM, Higgs S, Jebb SA, Loos RJF, Luckman S, Luke A, Mohammed-Ali V, O'Rahilly S, Pereira M, Perusse L, Robinson TN, Rolls B, Symonds ME & Westerterp-Plantenga MS (2011) Set points, settling points and some alternative models: theoretical options to understand how genes and environments combine to regulate body adiposity, Disease Models and Mechanisms, 4 (6), pp. 733-745.
Abstract: The close correspondence between energy intake and expenditure over prolonged time periods, coupled with an apparent protection of the level of body adiposity in the face of perturbations of energy balance, has led to the idea that body fatness is regulated via mechanisms that control intake and energy expenditure. Two models have dominated the discussion of how this regulation might take place. The set point model is rooted in physiology, genetics and molecular biology, and suggests that there is an active feedback mechanism linking adipose tissue (stored energy) to intake and expenditure via a set point, presumably encoded in the brain. This model is consistent with many of the biological aspects of energy balance, but struggles to explain the many significant environmental and social influences on obesity, food intake and physical activity. More importantly, the set point model does not effectively explain the ‘obesity epidemic' - the large increase in body weight and adiposity of a large proportion of individuals in many countries since the 1980s. An alternative model, called the settling point model, is based on the idea that there is passive feedback between the size of the body stores and aspects of expenditure. This model accommodates many of the social and environmental characteristics of energy balance, but struggles to explain some of the biological and genetic aspects. The shortcomings of these two models reflect their failure to address the gene-by-environment interactions that dominate the regulation of body weight. We discuss two additional models - the general intake model and the dual intervention point model - that address this issue and might offer better ways to understand how body fatness is controlled.
Type: Journal Article
DOI Link:
Rights: © 2011. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License (, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly cited and all further distributions of the work or adaptation are subject to the same Creative Commons License terms.
Affiliation: University of Aberdeen
Cornell University
University of Alabama at Birmingham
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Sam Houston State University, TX
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, USA
University of Fribourg, Switzerland
NHS Health Scotland
HS Research - Stirling
University of Duisburg-Essen
University of Leeds
University of Birmingham
Medical Research Council
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS
University of Manchester
Loyola University, Chicago
University College London
University of Cambridge
University of Minnesota
Universite Laval, Canada
Stanford University
Penn State University
Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
University of Maastricht

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