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Modest Visceral Fat Gain Decreases Endothelial Function

Gain of 4.1 kg in young adults enough to cause this; dysfunction reversible with weight loss

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Even modest gains in visceral fat are associated with decreased endothelial function in healthy young adults, according to research published in the Aug. 17 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Abel Romero-Corral, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic and Foundation in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled study of 43 normal weight volunteers to determine the effect of fat gain and fat distribution on endothelial function. The subjects (mean age, 29 years) were assigned to gain approximately 4 kg or to maintain their body weight; those who gained weight were asked to lose the excess weight by 16 weeks after the beginning of the study. Measurements of endothelial function were obtained by brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD) at baseline, at eight weeks, and again at 16 weeks for the gainers who subsequently lost the gained weight, and at baseline and eight weeks for those who maintained weight.

The researchers found that the fat-gain group, which gained an average of 4.1 kg, had significantly increased total body fat, including both visceral and subcutaneous fat. In weight maintainers, FMD remained unchanged; however, FMD decreased significantly in fat gainers, returning to baseline when this group lost the excess weight. Visceral fat gain, but not subcutaneous fat gain, was significantly correlated with decreased FMD. Neither blood pressure nor overnight polysomnography changed after fat gain or loss.

"Our study provides evidence that modest fat gain affects endothelial function, arguing against our cultural permissiveness toward weight gain or going up a clothing size as a normal phenomenon and strengthens the case for weight control as a means of attenuating cardiovascular risk," the authors write.

One of the authors is an employee of Eli Lilly Company. Another author is working with Mayo Health Solutions on intellectual property related to obesity and cardiovascular disease. Several of the authors are recipients of a grant from Select Research, a market research company, for separate work related to the measurement of obesity.

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