An Internal Scale

Your body has a set of scales,

To help to regulate the fat;

Detecting where your weight is at,

A backup as your leptin fails.


It keeps you on more healthy trails,

By checking out your habitat;

Your body has a set of scales,

To help to regulate the fat.


Attaching weights to rodent’s tails

Has proved this with one caveat:

Humans are neither mouse nor rat.

But these are just minor details;

Your body has a set of scales.

Your body’s bathroom scales help to regulate fat mass (Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver).

This is a Rondel, inspired by recent research that has found evidence for a previously undiscovered internal body weight sensing system, which operates like a set of bathroom scales, registering body weight and thereby fat mass.

It was previously thought that the hormone leptin was responsible for regulating eating. Leptin is a hormone released from fat cells, and which signals to the brain, acting to alter food intake and control energy expenditure over the long term. Being resistant to this hormone’s effects (called leptin resistance) is believed to be the leading driver of fat gain in humans.

However, the results of this study have found support for the existence of a new system that regulates fat mass, and which acts like an internal set of bathroom scales. The weight of the body is registered in the lower extremities, and if the body weight tends to increase, a signal is sent to the brain to decrease food intake and keep the body weight constant. The study was performed on obese rodents that were made artificially heavier by attaching weights intraperitoneally (i.e. via the injection of a substance into the peritoneum). This internal mechanism then caused the animals to lose almost as much weight as the artificial load. Further research is needed to fully map out how this mechanism works in humans, but it is believed that the internal body scales give an inaccurately low measure when you sit down. This is likely to cause you to eat more and gain weight, which could explain why several studies have coupled sitting down for long periods with obesity and bad health.


An audio version of this poem can be heard here.


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