The role for adipose tissue in weight regain after weight loss

Obes Rev. 2015 Feb;16 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):45-54. doi: 10.1111/obr.12255.


Weight regain after weight loss is a substantial challenge in obesity therapeutics. Dieting leads to significant adaptations in the homeostatic system that controls body weight, which promotes overeating and the relapse to obesity. In this review, we focus specifically on the adaptations in white adipose tissues that contribute to the biological drive to regain weight after weight loss. Weight loss leads to a reduction in size of adipocytes and this decline in size alters their metabolic and inflammatory characteristics in a manner that facilitates the clearance and storage of ingested energy. We present the hypothesis whereby the long-term signals reflecting stored energy and short-term signals reflecting nutrient availability are derived from the cellularity characteristics of adipose tissues. These signals are received and integrated in the hypothalamus and hindbrain and an energy gap between appetite and metabolic requirements emerges and promotes a positive energy imbalance and weight regain. In this paradigm, the cellularity and metabolic characteristics of adipose tissues after energy-restricted weight loss could explain the persistence of a biological drive to regain weight during both weight maintenance and the dynamic period of weight regain.

Keywords: Adipogenesis; dieting; obesity; weight regulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adipocytes / metabolism*
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Caloric Restriction*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Weight Gain*
  • Weight Loss*