It is one of those things we discuss for our entire lives.  Watching what we eat, trying to fit into jeans, comparing ourselves to others while changing in the locker room.

A recent study in Nature magazine showed some interesting facts.  The basic jist:  the number of fat cells you have as an adult remains constant through your adult life.  They postulate that number is formed by the amount of fat cells you have in childhood and adolescence.  When you gain weight as an adult, you are enlarging the fat cells you already have.  When you lose weight, you are shrinking them.  As a kid though, when you put on weight, you add fat cells. 

Their thought? If you gained weight in childhood, you have more fat cells, and it is harder for you to lose weight as an adult.  For those who gained as adults, their fat cell number was determined when they were kids, so they don’t have as many cells, therefore  it may be easier for them to lose weight.  (Maybe this has something to do why some can lose the baby weight easier than others?)

  • The number of fat cells rises until age 20
  • The number then remains constant
  • The number of fat cells is linked to BMI (your body mass index)


They found patients who had stomach stapling had no change in the fat cell number despite losing 18% of their weight.

Bottom line: Keep your kids healthy during adolescence.  Their fat cell number is set as an adolescent for the rest of their life.