Gaining just 5 extra pounds could raise blood pressure

Sept. 30, 2014—Most people understand that obesity has serious health risks. However, researchers are now suggesting that even a small weight gain can increase blood pressure.

New findings

Researchers set out to see what effect a small weight gain of about 5 to 11 pounds would have on overall health. They presented their findings at the American Heart Association‘s (AHA) “High Blood Pressure Research 2014 Scientific Sessions.”

Researchers used a 24-hour monitor to record the blood pressure of 26 people. The participants were normal-weight adults between 18 and 48 years old who did not smoke and were not taking any medications.

Sixteen of the participants were given an extra 400 to 1,200 calories every day for eight weeks. These excess calories increased each person’s weight by about 5 percent, or 5 to 11 pounds. After eight weeks, researchers compared these participants’ blood pressure levels to those of the remaining 10 individuals, whose weight hadn’t changed.

The results showed:

  • Those who gained weight had an increase in their systolic blood pressure. This top number of the blood pressure reading increased from an average of 114 mm Hg to an average of 118.
  • The participants who gained more weight inside their abdomens saw a greater increase in their blood pressure.
  • Gaining weight didn’t change people’s levels of cholesterol, insulin or blood sugar.

In addition, blood pressure increase was specifically related to increases in visceral fat in the abdomen. Visceral fat is the fat inside the abdomen, as opposed to fat just under the skin.


Learn more about the presentation here.

The take-home message
Gaining just a little bit of weight can have a negative effect on your health. While watching your weight go up and down a few pounds at a time might not seem like a big deal, every gain can affect your blood pressure. In turn, high blood pressure can contribute to a slew of health problems.

According to the AHA and the National Institutes of Health, high blood pressure starts when either:

  • The top number of the reading (the systolic pressure) is 140 or higher.
  • The bottom number of the reading (diastolic pressure) is 90 or higher .

It’s important to keep an eye on your weight, especially if you’re prone to putting on weight in your belly.

Your best bet? Keep your weight at a steady, healthy level, and check your blood pressure regularly. Consult with your doctor if you see dramatic changes or have concerns.

While high blood pressure may not always be recognized, it can silently cause many health problems. Take a look at this helpful review of how high blood pressure can damage your health.


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