Even Modest Weight Gain May Increase Blood Pressure

(HealthDay News) — Even modest weight gain may elevate blood pressure in healthy individuals at normal weight, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure Research Scientific Sessions in San Francisco.

Naima Covassin, PhD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues randomly assigned healthy, normal-weight individuals to an 8-week period of overfeeding and weight gain (n=16) or weight maintenance (n=10). Blood pressure (BP) and changes in weight and regional fat distribution were monitored.

Overfeeding caused weight gain of 3.7 kg with increases in total, visceral and subcutaneous fat, the researchers found. At follow-up, increases in 24-hour systolic BP (113.7 mm Hg to 117.7 mm Hg) and mean BP (85.1 mm Hg to 86.8 mm Hg) were found in the weight gainers. 

No changes in body weight or BP were observed in the maintenance group. Changes in mean BP were positively correlated with changes in visceral fat but not changes in weight or body composition.

“To our knowledge, for the first time, we showed that the blood pressure increase was specifically related to increases in abdominal visceral fat, which is the fat inside the abdomen,” one of the authors said in a statement. “Our research suggests that healthy people who are more likely to gain weight in the stomach area are also more likely to have their blood pressure increased.”

One of the authors reported financial ties to pharmaceutical and biomedical companies.