set-point hypothesis

set-point hypothesis

A deterministic theory that explains the interplay of appetite and other factors (e.g., fats and carbohydrates) in weight control. According to the set-point hypothesis, the brain is constantly adjusting metabolism and manipulating an individual’s behaviour to maintain a target weight; although the set point changes with age, it does so according to a fixed genetic program: while diet and exercise can shift the set point, the target itself is immutable.

The set-point hypothesis has been criticised as it does not explain the marked increase in obesity in the general population, nor the differences in weight in the geographically separated Pima Indians; if the SPH is valid, and weight is indeed centrally controlled, the intake of fat should have little impact on weight.