For those who become overweight as a result of their overactive appetites, the problem may be compounded by the presence of the extra fat itself. That’s because any excess fat cells the body acquires apparently fight to stay the size they are; they do not idly jiggle by, waiting to shrink into oblivion the moment someone begins to a follow a weight-reducing regimen.

Fat’s tenacious hold on the body may have something to do with what researchers today call a person’s “setpoint”—that is, a sort of internal thermostat that keeps body weight more or less constant. What the setpoint theory says, in effect, is that once weight gain has stopped and a fat “plateau” has been reached, the body will do everything it can to stay at that plateau.

Some scientists think fat cells may work to maintain the plateau, or setpoint, by dieting energy away from the muscles and the body’s organs and into the layers of adipose tissue. Such a shift would not only allow fat cells to maintain their size but also lead to a greater appetite so that the body would take in the energy it needs to fuel the rest of its tissues but loses to fat storage.

Obviously, the more fat cells someone has, the worse the vicious circle of overeating to compensate for “misplaced” energy.


It used to be thought that the number of fat cells in a person’s body does not increase once childhood has passed. But it is now known that adults, as well as children, will create new fat cells if they eat enough. Fat cells that are already present become filled to capacity, so to speak, and more develop to accommodate the extra load. (Fat cells never disappear once they form, incidentally; they can only be made smaller.)

None of this is to say that permanent weight loss for the obese is hopeless. Far from it. However, the fact that fat cells appear to play such an integral role in the size of the appetite suggests that the prevention of overweight is more easily managed than the cure.

Rather than use this information to despair, weight losers should employ it to remind themselves that shedding pounds is no easy task and that they should praise themselves for each minor success rather than berate themselves for every minor setback.

PhenQ is Only a Partial Solution

As for over-the-counter appetite suppressants like PhenQ, they are only a partial solution. True, these products do inhibit appetite. Researchers believe they may suppress appetite centers in the hypothalamus, a section of the brain, or affect some other areas of the central nervous system (although the exact mechanisms aren’t known).

And they are not actually dangerous for most people, according to Louis Lasagna, MD, dean of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts, even though the labels correctly caution users to check blood pressure regularly and check for unwanted symptoms such as headaches, nervousness, dizziness, and palpitations, since these problems have been known to occur.

But while appetite suppressants like PhenQ may be helpful for achieving a modest weight loss before a wedding, for instance, or some other event, they do not work well over the long term without proper diet, exercise, and behavior modification. They are not magic, and lost weight will come right back on if life-style changes are not made. That’s especially important to consider in the face of recent clinical research that now suggests the more times weight is lost and then regained, the harder it becomes to lose on each succeeding try.