When Getting Fat Is not Dangerous

Fat people have always been seen as candidates for high blood pressure, but if this study by Naima Covassin, a research fellow with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, United States, is anything to go by, then gaining a few extra pounds could not be bad after all, especially for those who want to boost their blood pressure. According to the study, one can boost blood pressure slightly by just gaining five per cent of one’s body weight.

While it is not clear how the changes could affect cardiovascular health, Covassin noted: “This is the kind of weight gain that occurs over the holiday season, or on a cruise, or in college freshman year.” Researchers and physicians already know there is a link between excess weight and higher blood pressure, which in turn boosts the risk of heart-related problems. But it is not clear why weight affects blood pressure, so the new study aimed to gain a greater understanding of that connection.

For the study, researchers told 16 people to consume an extra 400 to 1,000 calories a day for eight weeks. Their blood pressure levels rose a bit on average, although not to an unhealthy range. The goal was to add five per cent of their body weight, which would be 10 extra pounds on a 200-pound frame. The participants were not obese when the study began, although they could be overweight. At the end of the test period, the systolic blood pressure, the higher number in a reading of the participants, was taken over a 24-hour period and compared to those from a group that had not gained weight over the same time frame.

For those who put on weight, the reading rose from 114 to 118 mm hyper-emesis gravidarum, Hg. A reading of 118 mm Hg, which is the measure of blood pressure, referring to the height to which the pressure in the blood vessels pushes a column of mercury, is still considered healthy if the diastolic measure, the lower number, is also at a healthy level. Greater blood pressure increases were seen for those who added the weight inside their abdomen. However, blood sugar, insulin and cholesterol levels in the weight gainers didn’t change.

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