Mayo Clinic Logo While obesity is known to be a threat to our health, even a slight increase in body weight can have detrimental effects. Scientists from the Mayo Clinic declare that healthy young people who put on as little as 9 pounds of fat, particularly in the abdomen, are at risk for developing endothelial cell dysfunction. These cells are assumed to line the blood vessels and keep a check on the capacity of the vessels to expand and contract.

The study was initiated on 43 healthy Mayo Clinic volunteers with a mean age of 29 years. Having measured the blood flow through their arm arteries, the authors tested for endothelial dysfunction. The volunteers were told to either gain weight or maintain their weight for eight weeks, and their blood flow was tested. Those study subjects who were assigned to gain weight then lost the weight and were tested again.

Virend Somers, M.D., Ph.D., a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic enlightened, “Endothelial dysfunction has long been associated with an increased risk for coronary artery disease and cardiovascular events. Gaining a few pounds in college, on a cruise, or over the holidays is considered harmless, but it can have cardiovascular implications, especially if the weight is gained in the abdomen.”

The consequence of the investigation was that participants who gained weight in their abdomens known as visceral fat reported normal blood pressure. But the regulation of blood flow through their arm arteries was supposedly damaged probably because of the endothelial dysfunction. On losing weight, investigators registered recovery of the blood flow.

Dr. Somers concluded, “Patients should know that having a big belly may be more harmful than simply being obese. Letting weight creep on during college or as the result of aging should not be accepted as normal. Physicians should know that the location of fat is important. Greater attention should be given to the circumference of a patient’s waistline, not just their body mass index (BMI).”

Those volunteers who maintained their weight displayed unaltered blood flow regulation and were less affected among those who gained weight evenly throughout their bodies. Scientists were apparently unable to ascertain if recovery of blood flow is possible on maintaining weight for several years.

The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.