Gaining weight over time can put you at risk for future heart failure.
The “fat acceptance” subset of the body positive movement needs to understand this. Chronic heart failure should never be an “accepted” disease.
Weight Gain over Time, not Weight Loss, Is Tied to Heart Failure
A study took a look at 1,262 adults with a mean age of 44, and 36 percent of them were obese.
The study (Journal of the American Heart Association, July 2017) revealed that even small amounts of weight gain over time are associated with heart failure.
Weight LOSS over a period of time is not correlated to heart failure.
With study results such as these, how can anyone in the bopo movement believe that being overweight isn’t an independent risk factor for heart problems?
The Study and Its Results
• The adults were followed for seven years.
• At the study’s beginning, the participants were free of heart disease and factors that would put them at high risk for heart disease.
• At the start, and then seven years later, they had MRIs of their hearts and several body fat measurements.
• Weight gain of even five percent meant an increased likelihood of thickening and enlargement of the heart’s left ventricle—a harbinger of future heart failure.
• A small weight gain also meant a higher chance of having very mild reductions in the heart’s pumping action.
• A small weight gain also meant a greater chance of change in heart muscle function and appearance – even after variables were adjusted for, such as high blood pressure, smoking, drinking and diabetes.
• Subjects who had lost weight were more likely to have decreases in heart muscle thickness.
• Body weight at the start of the study had no meaningful relevance to any of the heart changes down the road.
• A limitation of the study was its small size. The study authors affirm that the results do not mean that everyone who gains weight after middle age will get heart failure.
But why take a chance?
How to Stave off Weight Gain in Middle Age
I used to be a personal trainer and worked with many middle aged clients who did not want to keep gaining weight.
Though some cited aesthetic reasons, some also cited heart health as a motivation to prevent weight gain.
Strength training is imperative for preventing weight gain. It’s crucial to retain and even add some lean muscle, since muscle is the body’s metabolic furnace.
“Excess” skeletal muscle is far better for the heart and overall health than is excess visceral fat — the kind that engulfs the organs, including the heart.
Adding lean muscle mass through strength training will go a long way at preventing weight gain in middle age, and it’s never too early to start a strength training program.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.