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NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine, Trusted Health Information from the National Institutes of Health


Facts About Fat

By Shana Potash, Staff Writer, NLM

Scientists are learning more about our fat cells, and their findings could explain why some people have a hard time maintaining weight loss.

NIH-funded research suggests that the number of our fat cells increases during childhood and teen years. Fat cells then level off and stay the same throughout adulthood. If we gain or lose weight as an adult, the number of cells stays the same. But their volume changes—expanding or shrinking depending on weight gain or loss. "If you are overweight and you lose weight, you still have the capacity to store lipids because you still have the same number of fat cells. That may be why it's so hard to keep the weight off," explains one of the study authors, scientist Bruce Buchholz of the NCRR-funded National Resource for Biomedical Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

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Fall 2008 Issue: Volume 3 Number 4 Page 28