Weight gain as little as 1.5 pounds per year is enough to raise blood pressure among college students, the effect could be worse for young women, new research finds.
"If young people continue to gain 1.5 pounds a year and think it doesn't matter, they're misleading themselves and increasing their risk of heart disease," said Margarita Teran-Garcia, professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois.
Data were collected from 795, 18- to 20-year-old applicants to the Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potosi in Mexico who weren't accepted to the university but reapplied the next year.
The study assessed changes in BMI (height to weight ratio) and body weight over one year and explored whether the applicants experienced changes in blood pressure and blood glucose levels, according to an Illinois statement.
One-year changes in body weight were associated with increased blood pressure (BP) for both men and women. In the 25 percent of applicants who had a weight gain of 5 percent or more, that gain was associated with higher BP. The changes were more significant for women than for men, she said.
"The good news is that the reverse was also true. Women who lost 5 percent of their body weight saw reductions in their blood pressure," added Teran-Garcia.
Teran-Garcia worries that doctors don't take weight gain and small increases in blood pressure seriously enough in this age group.