We tend to have fairly wide spread social acceptance for temporary weight gain being a right of passage of sorts where holidays, academic pursuits, and time away from seasonal physical activity leads to short term modest weight gain.
We know that weight gain is connected to developing future health problems, but how much weight gain is needed to start causing problems? Are those holiday pounds really a concern; or do we only have to start worrying when gain 20 or 30 pounds?
9 pounds is enough to cause 'endothelial dysfunction'.
A new study from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota shows that young (age 29) healthy men and woman who don't smoke that gain 9 pounds of fat will develop an artery stiffening problem known as endothelial dysfunction.
The distribution of stored fat was very important. Those who's waist lines expanded the most had the largest impairment of artery function. Abdominal fat, also referred to as visceral fat, has been proven to have the greatest negative influence on health, even greater than total weight gain or BMI.
In this study blood pressure remained in the healthy range for all subjects, even those with the greatest endothelial disfunction. So you can have healthy blood pressure, but still have impaired artery function.
Stiffening arteries isn't something you can feel. You're not going wake up in the morning, yawn, stretch your arms up and say, "ooohhaa... arteries a little stiff today".
In fact cardiovascular disease is often referred to as the silent killer, as the first sign when chronic and left unchecked, is often a heart attack or stroke.
According to this research, and prior research showing the same results, if your waist line increases, your arteries will get stiffer, even if your blood pressure is in the healthy range.
So don't be too proud of sporting a modest "buddha belly" and healthy blood pressure ("Yeah I got a bit of a gut, but my blood pressure is fine, my cholesterol is good.. it's not a problem for me").. expanding waist line, even a moderate amount = health problem.
The solution? A bit of a no-brainer.. don't let your belly get bigger, and if it does, losing belly fat to a healthy level will reverse the endothelial dysfunction.