What’s the ‘weight set point’, and why does it make it so hard to keep weight off?

If you've ever tried to lose weight, only to find that the pounds come back almost as quickly as they left off, you're not alone.

In fact, research confirms the challenge of maintaining weight loss, including an analysis of 29 long-term weight loss studies that found that more than half of the weight lost by participants regained it within two years, and more than 80% of the weight lost was regained within five years up.

When we gain weight back, we tend to blame it on a lack of willpower.

But there is a scientific basis for many people regaining their previous weight after dieting, and understanding the science — known as the weight set point theory — is key to achieving long-term weight loss.

What is a weight set point?

We each have a predetermined weight—a set point—and our bodies protect it. This is the weight you'll remember for a long time as an adult (over 20), and it's the weight you'll remember bouncing back from any diet.

It is programmed very early in life – specifically in the first 2,000 days of life – from conception to the age of five. Our genes play a role in programming our weight set point. Just as our DNA determines whether we are shorter or taller than other people, we are born with a tendency to be thin or overweight. But our genetic makeup is a predisposition, not an inevitable destiny.

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