Set-Points vs Settling Points in Relation to Weight Control

Post a 100- to 150-word response to the following: What is the difference between the idea of set points versus settling points in relation to weight control? Which do you believe to be true? Explain your answer.

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The set-point theory explains that body weight and caloric intake are governed by an ideal or set-point body weight (Pinel, 2007). The set-point theory is based on the belief that animals and humans eat when there are deficient levels of energy in the body and that we don’t eat or stop eating when optimum energy levels have been attained. The mechanism of set-points is supposed to explain the tendency for adult animals and humans to maintain their body weight for extended periods of time. The settling-point theory, on the other hand, centers on the belief that body weight is maintained and changed through a complex interaction between energy intake, energy expenditure, satiety signals, and the incentive value of the available food supply. This theory explains that consistent body weight is maintained because the inflow of energy and the outflow of energy “settle” into a balance over time. Now, according to the settling-point theory if our food consumption increases or our energy expenditures decrease over a long enough period of time the body will readjust to accommodate larger body weight and vice versa.

Furthermore, I completely agree with the settling-point theory of body weight. I have personally witnessed the effects of the principles of this theory in my own life. In fact, I have been trying to lower my body weight for some time. I have always understood that diets do not permanently lower body weight. I have slowly started to limit my intake of calories and raise my level of energy output through exercise. As I have implemented these two methods into my life I have noticed a surprising trend. It has become apparent that I can only lose so much before I plateau for a little while. For instance, when I started losing weight I was at 210 lbs. When I started limiting my caloric intake I noticed an almost immediate loss of body weight, down to between 190 lbs. and 200 lbs. At that point, I was excited and began to limit my diet even more. To my astonishment though, I was not able to lose any more weight for almost four weeks. But then I lost even more weight when I started exercising on a regular basis. Now I am down to between 180 lbs. and 190 lbs. I suppose I will stay here for some time before my body readjusts to the new body weight, and then I will start to lose more weight.

Lastly, I do agree that there is an optimum body weight for all of us; however, I do not agree that our autonomic system is capable of attaining that weight without the cognitive intervention of the human mind. Therefore, I would not totally discount the set-point theory, rather only the assumption that the body automatically adjusts to reach an optimum body weight.

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Pinel, J. P. J. (2007). Basics of biopsychology. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.


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