Overweight, obesity, and blood pressure: the effects of modest weight reduction.


Mertens IL, Van Gaal LF




Obes Res


Several large epidemiological studies have shown an association between body mass index and blood pressure in normal weight and overweight patients. Weight gain in adult life especially seems to be an important risk factor for the development of hypertension. Weight loss has been recommended for the obese hypertensive patient and has been shown to be the most effective nonpharmacological treatment approach. However, long-term results of weight loss programs are disappointing with people often regaining most of the weight initially lost. In recent years, a modest weight loss, defined as a weight loss of 5% to 10% of baseline weight, has received increasing attention as a new treatment strategy for overweight and obese patients. A more gradual and moderate weight loss is more likely to be maintained over a longer period of time. Several studies have confirmed the blood pressure-lowering effect of a modest weight loss in both hypertensive and nonhypertensive patients. A modest weight loss can normalize blood pressure levels even without reaching ideal weight. In patients taking antihypertensive medication, a modest weight loss has been shown to lower or even discontinue the need for antihypertensive medication. In patients with high normal blood pressure, a modest weight loss can prevent the onset of frank hypertension. The blood pressure-lowering effect of weight loss is most likely a result of an improvement in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in sympathetic nervous system activity and occurs independent of salt restriction. In conclusion, a modest weight loss that can be maintained over a longer period of time is a valuable treatment goal in hypertensive patients.