Set-point theory hypothesises that there is a control system built into every person dictating how much fat he or she should carry – a kind of thermostat for body fat that the body is determined to revert to despite efforts to become so skinny, only the one eye would be required. Studies using mainly dietary restriction have shown that weight loss is accompanied by complacency followed by the habits of old (TOTB et al. 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014). Severe caloric restriction has been shown to increase cravings for Curly Wurlys as much as 85% (Cadburys & TOTB 2015).
Scientists remain divided over the validity of the theory, but research findings appear consistent with evidence-based studies involving lesser-explored set-points including the following:
- Sibling Set-point: Despite reaching maturity, being able to retain a job, and convince bank officials to hand over the equivalent going rate for an internal organ on the black market for an upgrade to the garden shed, adults will naturally revert to their sibling set-point whenever they reconvene. This is most acutely determined by being present in the childhood home environment. Sibling set-point behaviour fluctuates from one sibling to another but “That’s not fair” in a high octane voice is a common refrain among most…40-somethings.
- Music Set-point: If a person exhibited scant interest in music at an early age, they are most likely drawn back to the oeuvre of Florence and The Machine, and Ed Sheeran after several failed attempts to listen to The Paul McLoone Show. Adults who were early music fans will eventually seize up whenever they see Little Green Cars having momentarily been duped into falling for their pseudo musical credentials. They’ll not be fooled.
- Internet-at-work Set-point: Having flicked straight to the internet use policy in the employee handbook with a renewed determination on the first day of a new job, workers will vow never to re-abuse the policy and risk a bollocking, or worse – risk exposure of the variety of bodily ailments giving them jip that they just can’t resist Googling . By six months, their favourites will include the 8-Ball Question & Answer site, and Medics R Us.
- Teen Set-point: Irrespective of the distance between adult children and their parents, the former will revert to their Teen Set-point age whenever they learn that their parent(s) are going on holidays or will not be at the family home for a night. This usually involves a warm fuzzy feeling accompanied by a stare into the middle-distance to speculate on what one would do to pass the time in the family home if they were 15 again. Only they don’t imagine they are 15 again, their thoughts automatically revert to age-type, and more often than not include a cameo appearance from the drinks cabinet and an involuntary tapping of the right index finger previously deployed for circumnavigating the phone-lock.
- Calm Set-point: The adult-man habit of gently placing a hand inside his pants is thought to derive from the unconscious return to child-hood self-soothing. Actually, I just made that up, but it sounds about right. Work with me here. For others, the sight of Bert and Ernie sends them hurtling towards a yearning to retreat to the bottom of a garden so they can talk to themselves without interruption. In lieu of either, the bathroom is a reliable garden simulator where day-dreaming can last for as long as you can get away with it, and you don’t even have to warn the next person in to give it a minute.
- Coastal Set-point: Growing up in close proximity to the sea can be a challenge for an adult who later finds themselves landlocked between painful social conservatism, and that nice coffee shop that occasionally opens on Sundays. This can be harder to return to and the mind will invariably induce a variety of deviant behaviours until the adult’s discomfort finally washes up on the shoreline to which they eventually return. These have been known to include: being over-friendly to shop assistants, menu-planning for a fortnight ahead, almost buying a dog based on a single photo from a colleague, resurrecting the what-does-it-all-mean speech whilst in the car to visit the in-laws, and hovering around the non-alcoholic beer section in Sainsburys.
- Group Set-point: Studious rule-abiding types in childhood are likely to carry this responsible behaviour into the work environment. The temptation to collude with their messing colleagues to hide one of their cars will test them, but they will scupper the carefully orchestrated plan by calm calls to reflect on the unfairness and potential shock the unfair and potentially shocking prank could unleash on the unsuspecting individual. The messing student who frequently sat at an annex of the teacher’s table will agree with the studious type. But not for very long.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Research is on-going, and contributions from your good-selves are always welcome.