Yes, fat cells do die. Unfortunately, they’re quickly replaced.
Adults have a consistent number of fat cells throughout their adult life, whether they gain weight or not, according to Swedish researchers. In addition, each year 10 percent of our fat cells die and are replaced with new fat cells.
Researchers Kirsty Spalding, Jonas Frisén and Peter Arner at Karolinska Institutet also showed that overweight people generate and replace more fat cells than do lean people, and that the total number of fat cells stays equal after a diet program.
Until recently, it was thought that fat cells never die, but merely shrink and enlarge as people lose or gain weight. New York Times writer, Gina Kolata, notes that the study raises interesting questions: What determines how many fat cells are in a person’s body? Could obesity be treated by making fat cells die faster than they are born?
If so, this kind of treatment could be decades away. In the meantime, calorie control and increased activity are still our best bets for shedding pounds.