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nebule's avatar

How do fat cells know how to distribute themselves so 'evenly'?

Asked by nebule (16439points) January 9th, 2011

How come you manage to put fat on slowly all over the body?

I know some people put more fat on in places than others but… generally when we put weight on it goes on…evenly….

How does this happen… how does the body manage to know how to distribute the fat all over rather than say just on the feet or bum or things or face….

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11 Answers

janbb's avatar

I have highly intelligent fat cells. ~

Axemusica's avatar

I just imagine fat cells being spread across the body like someone spreading butter on a piece of bread. Is that a normal way to think? lol

nebule's avatar

Well I imagine them like ‘popping’ into existence…... little cells..like little balloons all over the place… and what order do they decide to do this in??.... It’s really quite incredible

and I love your answers… but… I am actually quite serious :-)

Axemusica's avatar

I know, but alas I have no real answer. I’m sorry, lol. :P

janbb's avatar

Me neither, although I believe what happens is that the fat cells are already there, they just get fatter.

funkdaddy's avatar

It’s growth just like when your body grows as a child or plants grow. Your body is just looking for a place to store extra energy. It’s not a conscious process.

There is some difference between sexes in where fat tends to be stored. Men tend to have excess fat stored in the belly and ladies tend to gain in the thighs and bottom. Different body types will store fat in different areas as well.

I’d guess there’s some evolutionary advantage to distributing weight in the middle, it’s easier to keep balance and such. Honestly though, the alternative would look awful funny.

gasman's avatar

Except in children, fat cells don’t generally increase greatly in number (“pop into existence”) during weight gain. Existing fat cells, however, accumulate more fat within their interiors. Adipocytes (fat cells) are everywhere throughout the body, along with their support cells to supply structural scaffolding and blood supply.

They all carry the same genome, producing fat under the same genetic control mechanisms (not fully understood) inside the cell. While scientists are still working out the various stimulatory & inhibitory hormones & other cell signals, within any single individual the levels of these signals should be constant, because of thorough mixing in the blood. Hence to some extent all body fat increases or decreases according to dietary calorie excess or deficit.

There is a “higher-level” genetic program that determines the distribution of fat in various regions of the body in both normal and obese states. For instance, women accumulate more fat in the hips and buttocks while men accumulate more fat in the central abdomen. Somehow the fat tissue “knows” which region of the body it’s located in, and varies its sensitivity to fat regulation accordingly.

JustJessica's avatar

Mine only go to my ass and my breasts, so my fat cells must be men.

nebule's avatar

@gasman Thank you…it’s fascinating stuff… Are there any diseases or syndromes at all in which fat isn’t distributed evenly?

BoBo1946's avatar

Lmao… Jess, you want do!

gasman's avatar

@nebule Well, patients on high-dose corticosteroids tend to develop a “buffalo hump” of fat deposits on the upper back as well as “chipmunk cheeks.” In any person, lipomas are common, benign tumors that produce small rubbery lumps of fat under the skin.

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