Lose Weight to Lower Blood Pressure

Research shows a strong correlation between
hypertension and obesity

Sketch of man on scale

The Reader's Digest Association, Inc./GID

Just as research associates lung cancer and emphysema with smoking, it shows a similarly strong correlation between hypertension and obesity. It turns out that a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or more and significant fat deposits around the abdomen are directly linked to high blood pressure. In fact, it’s estimated that the growing obesity epidemic in the United States is responsible for 2 percent of the 3.6 percent increase in the prevalence of hypertension between 1991 and 2000.

Body weight affects blood pressure in three ways:

  1. With increased weight, you have increased blood volume, which can lead to higher blood pressure.
  2. People who are overweight are more likely to be salt sensitive.
  3. Overweight people are more insulin resistant, meaning that their cells bar access to insulin so they can’t accept energy-providing glucose. The resulting excess of glucose and insulin contributes to high blood pressure.

The good news is that losing as few as 10 pounds of body weight can significantly improve your blood pressure readings.