It’s normal for your weight to fluctuate a pound or two from day to day without doing anything different. A couple of pounds probably won’t make much difference to your appearance.
But at what point does a few extra pounds start to take a toll on your health?
Research by the American Heart Association suggests that a small weight gain of as little as 5 pounds can negatively impact your blood pressure.
Weight Gain and Chronic Illness
Being overweight or obese is generally associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Some types of cancer
- Sleep apnea
- Fatty liver disease
- Kidney disease
Weight gain can also make existing conditions worse.
The good news here is that gaining 5-10 pounds does not appear to worsen your cholesterol or blood sugar levels significantly, nor does it substantially reduce your insulin sensitivity. This means that your risk for atherosclerosis (arterial stiffness) and type 2 diabetes does not increase dramatically with small weight gains.
However, continued weight gain over long periods will negatively impact your health in many ways.
Small Weight Gains and Blood Pressure
The AHA research did show that small weight gains can cause noticeable increases in blood pressure, especially when that weight comes in the form of belly fat.
When blood pressure increases, you put yourself at greater risk of suffering a heart attack, heart failure, or sudden cardiac death.
While chronic hypertension (high blood pressure) is typically more dangerous than episodic hypertension (short-term spikes in blood pressure), these short-term elevations in blood pressure can be harmful. Suppose your blood pressure is already elevated due to other risk factors such as atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. In that case, a small weight gain could potentially trigger a heart attack or stroke.
Be Mindful Around The Holidays
Around Thanksgiving and New Year’s, many people discover that gaining 5 pounds or more is surprisingly easy. With all the holiday parties and family gatherings, it’s easy to let your diet and exercise habits slide.
So try to be more mindful of what you eat during the holidays. Your body does not know it’s a holiday. The junk foods and extra calories you consume will impact your health just like any other time of year.
While it may not seem like much, those few extra pounds can significantly impact your health, especially if you’re already living with excess weight and other chronic illnesses.
This tendency to gain a few pounds around the holidays may be one of the reasons that the rate of heart attacks and cardiac mortality increases around Christmas and New Year’s.