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By Nutrition Experts

Thursday, September 13, 2012.

The new academic year is just beginning and students packing up their belongings to start their first semester at university have been warned about the dangers of weight gain.

While many students are susceptible to piling on a few pounds, or the "Freshman 15, when they make their debut at university, there is a risk of higher blood pressure linked to this.

According to research carried out at the University of Illinois in the US, just putting on 1.5 pounds per year while in third level education could be enough to raise blood pressure, with the effects particularly prevalent in women.

The study took into account the bodily changes in almost 800 young people aged between 18 and 20, assessing their body mass index and body weight over the course of 12 months.

Researchers then determined whether the students witnessed changes in their blood pressure and blood glucose levels to understand the effects of weight change in university.

In a quarter of respondents who experienced at least five per cent weight gain, an association with high blood pressure was made, particularly in female candidates.

Professor of food science and human nutrition Margarita Teran-Garcia explained that the reverse was also found - with women who reduced their body fat by five per cent or more also experiencing a reduction in blood pressure.

She expressed the need for health physicians to heed these results as they do not typically consider weight gain and small increases in blood pressure important among this age group.

The professor also stressed the need to take regular exercise to stave off the effects of weight gain and high blood pressure as "many young adults are not getting the recommended 30 minutes to one hour a day".

According to the NHS, around 30 per cent of people in England suffer from high blood pressure, which increases the threat of heart attack and stroke.



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