February 4, 2016 – Your Appetite Regulation System

Bariatric Support Group
Date: February 4, 2016

The group listened to an informative talk about how our body manages the energy balance in our body, the complex appetite regulation system, and how in obesity those regulation systems become increasing more unregulated as we continue to gain weight.

Energy balance is measured in calories. When the energy in, exceed energy out, then we gain weight. What is supposed to happen at that point is that our body makes us less hungry and increases our metabolism in order to rebalance our energy. However, if the energy in consistently exceeds the energy out, our body begins to become unregulated and that balance is lost. In addition, not all body tissue has the same rate of metabolism. Fat has a much lower metabolic rate, and lean muscle has a much higher metabolic rate, so the more lean muscle you have, the easier it is for you to balance your energy because you have a higher metabolism.

The regulation of our appetite is extremely complex. It is regulated by over hormones that are secreted in the stomach, intestines, pancreas, and even in fatty tissue itself. These hormones signal us to feel hungry or to be satisfied. As we gain weight, those signals become unregulated, and the result is that our body tells us we are always hungry, and no matter what we eat we are never satisfied. This begins a vicious cycle that keeps us gaining more and more weight. Because this system is so complex, just trying to balance our energy in with energy out becomes almost impossible. The saying that you just need to “Eat less and move more” doesn’t work.

We also each have a “metabolic set point” which is mostly genetic and extremely difficult to change. If we diet and lose weight, our metabolic set point causes us to become hungry in order to regain the weight in an effort to try and pull us back up to that set point. What happens when you have surgery, is that the metabolic set point is reset to a lower point, which now allows you to lose the weight and keep it off, because the body is no long trying to pull you back up to the higher set point. While current research has not shown us exactly how the surgery does that, we know that is does. Now you have a fighting chance to get the weight off and keep it off.