Role of set-point theory in regulation of body weight

FASEB J. 1990 Dec;4(15):3310-8. doi: 10.1096/fasebj.4.15.2253845.


In adult individuals body weight is maintained at a relatively stable level for long periods. The set-point theory suggests that body weight is regulated at a predetermined, or preferred, level by a feedback control mechanism. Information from the periphery is carried by an affector to a central controller located in the hypothalamus. The controller integrates and transduces the information into an effector signal that modulates food intake or energy expenditure to correct any deviations in body weight from set-point. Evidence for involvement of various factors and physiological systems in the control of food intake and regulation of body weight and fat are reviewed within the context of a control model. Current working hypotheses include roles for nutrients, dietary composition and organoleptic properties, hormones, neural pathways, various brain nuclei, and many neurotransmitters in the regulation of food intake. It is concluded that regulation of body weight in relation to one specific parameter related to energy balance is unrealistic. It seems appropriate to assume that the level at which body weight and body fat content are maintained represents the equilibria achieved by regulation of many parameters.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Animals
  • Body Composition
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Eating
  • Efferent Pathways / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Homeostasis*
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / physiology
  • Models, Biological*