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Weight Control and High Blood Pressure, Hypertension
Weight Loss Causes Reduction in Blood Pressure
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Weight Control & High Blood Pressure

Weight Control Study Introduction
Many people who have high blood pressure are also overweight, which compounds their health problems. Doctors know that even modest weight loss can help control high blood pressure, but even those with access to professional weight loss support have difficulty losing weight and keeping it off.

Weight Control Blood Pressure Study Methods
Almost 600 overweight, middle-aged men and women, all with mild to moderate high blood pressure, participated in an organized weight control program. Their goal was to lose at least 4.5 kg (10 lb) over a 6-month period, and to maintain the weight loss over the next 3 years. All received individual nutrition counseling at the start of the program, and were then encouraged to attend regularly scheduled classes that offered additional instruction and moral support. Blood pressure was measured at several points during the study.

Weight Control Blood Pressure Study Results
The group's original weight loss efforts were impressive; they lost an average 4.4 kg (almost 10 lb) during the first 6 months of the program. Blood pressure declined as well, with an average 3.7 mm Hg reduction in systolic pressure (the top number) and an average 2.7 mm Hg reduction in diastolic pressure (the bottom number). But as participation in the organized program waned, so did weight loss efforts. Eighteen months into the program, average weight loss had shrunk to 2 kg (4.4 lb). At the three-year point, the group was only an average .2 kg (approx. 1/2 lb) lighter than they were at the start of the program. And as participants regained lost weight, their blood pressure measurements rose as well.

Weight Control Blood Pressure Study Conclusion
As expected, the people who lost the most weight had the greatest reductions in blood pressure. But, unfortunately those successful at weight loss were in the minority in this study. Less than one-fifth of study participants were able to lose weight and maintain it for 3 years. About one-third managed to lose weight, but had regained it by the end of the study. Most discouraging, though, is that almost one-half lost no significant weight at all. Participants' willingness to "stick with the program" seemed to affect their weight loss efforts. They were not required to attend a specific number of weight management sessions, and, as the program progressed, participation in the follow-up sessions began to drop off. But those who lost the most weight, at least in the initial stages of the program, were the ones most willing to commit to regular participation in the follow-up sessions.

Source: Long-term weight loss and changes in blood pressure: results of the Trials of Hypertension Prevention, Phase II VJ. Stevens, E. Obarzanek, NR. Cook, Annals of Internal Medicine., 2001, vol. 134, pp. 1-11

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