A woman grabs her fat

Causes of Cellulite

Cellulite is a collection of fatty tissue underneath the skin. The muscles beneath press against it, while the fibers that connect the epidermis to the muscle layer pull down, creating what is often called “cottage cheese skin.” Cellulite generally does not start until after adolescence, and it more common in women than in men—largely because men tend to store excess body fat in the abdomen and have thicker skin, while women’s excess fat is stored in the hips and thighs under more delicate skin. While there are many theories put forth as the cause of cellulite, the exact scientific cause is still under scrutiny.

Hormones and Genetics 

Women’s bodies are genetically inclined towards having more fat than men’s, for the evolutionary purpose of being better able to bear and feed infants. In fact, pregnancy increases the chances of developing cellulite. However, other hormones in the body are suspected of increasing cellulite as well. Estrogen is one of the hormones in women responsible for the increased fat, which also makes it suspect as a contributing factor.

Other hormones and systems of the body play a role as well, such as the thyroid glands, which control metabolism. Some experts suspect genetics of playing a large role too; just as some genes might make a person more likely to have paler skin that is more subject to sunburns, some genes may increase the chances that cellulite will develop visibly. Additionally, lighter skin makes cellulite more obvious, creating another way for genes to interfere.

Diet and Lifestyle

The most certain of the factors that cause cellulite is lifestyle. A poor diet and sedentary lifestyle mean the body builds up more fat, making cellulite form easier. However, since even very slender people may find themselves with cellulite, other causes must be looked examined. Eating a variety of healthy foods with low carbohydrate and fat counts is not only good for fighting cellulite, but for the entire body as well. Cigarette smokers may be more likely to develop cellulite, and wearing clothes that are tight enough to prevent blood flow in target areas may be a risk factor as well. 

Last Updated: February 16, 2016