Adipose tissue is defended

A study in Nature reported in the New York Times by Gina Kolata shows that after liposuction, the fat comes back. It doesn’t come back in the same place, though.

Gina Kolata has a history of questioning mainstream thinking on obesity. From most authors/reporters, I’d be more surprised to hear things like this in an article in the mainstream media*:

…The outcome did not depend on the surgeon. It depended on the biology of fat. And obesity researchers say they are not surprised that the women’s fat came back. The body, they say “defends” its fat. If you lose weight, even by dieting, it comes back. And, the study showed, if you suck out the fat with liposuction, even if it’s only a pound, as it was for subjects in the study, it still comes back.

It turns out, Dr. Leibel said, that the body controls the number of its fat cells as carefully as it controls the amount of its fat. Fat cells die and new ones are born throughout life. Scientists have found that fat cells live for only about seven years and that every time a fat cell dies, another is formed to take its place.

Maybe your body sorta knows what it’s doing. Maybe it’s smarter than you think. Maybe you can’t get it to do exactly what you want just by cutting out parts of it.

*although it seems like papers like the Times that are willing to print longer, more in-depth articles are also more willing to take a more nuanced or questioning view instead of oversimplifying everything into “eat less, move more”.

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