Date of Award

Winter 4-26-2020

Thesis Access

Open Access Honors Thesis

Thesis Location

Honors College Thesis

Degree Name



Nutrition and Food Science

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Kai-Lin Catherine Jen


Weight loss methods have been around for decades, but yet, individuals still can’t lose weight or keep it off. Researchers have pondered if there is more to being incapable of losing body fat than individuals having a lack of willpower. While the environment plays a critical role in weight regulation, genetics may be just as important.

Research has discovered a hormone called leptin that controls energy expenditure and satiety. Leptin plays a part in many physiological roles, including appetite control, sexual function, immunity, insulin sensitivity, and the metabolism of lipid and bone. Studies done with mice and humans have concluded that there are two main issues with leptin: leptin-deficiency and leptin resistance. As leptin-deficient individuals are rare, leptin resistance may be the main variable causing inability for individuals to lose weight and, additionally, obtaining more body fat. Factors such as the stress of the endoplasmic reticulum, hypothalamic inflammation, and impaired signaling and transport of leptin could lead to leptin resistance.

Further research shows that exogenous doses of leptin, leptin sensitizers, dietary compounds, and physical activity all play a role in reversing leptin resistance. An individualized diet regimen and exercise plan is a start. However, additional treatments described may be necessary. Continued research on how to utilize these concepts adequately is critical to helping overweight and obese individuals lose weight. Understanding how leptin operates and how to use it to humanity’s advantage may be the most crucial part of controlling the obesity epidemic.