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27 October 2022

Link between belly fat, blood pressure and food responses revealed

People with high blood pressure take longer and work harder to clear fats from the blood after meals and have higher levels of inflammation after eating.

Belly Fat - TwinsUK Study

The research, published today in Nutrients by researchers from King’s identified that this link is in large part due to visceral fat – the fat that wraps around your organs in your belly.

This suggests that reducing belly fat could be particularly important in improving the body’s responses to food in people with high blood pressure.

People with high blood pressure are more likely to have higher levels of visceral fat than people with normal blood pressure. Our study found that this visceral fat is indeed responsible for a considerable amount of the difference we see in blood fats and insulin levels between these two groups after meals.

First author and TwinsUK researcher Panayiotis Louca

The research was part of ongoing analysis of data collected during the PREDICT study, where 1,000 participants – including several hundred TwinsUK members – had their bodies’ responses to food measured over a two-week period.

Previous studies have shown that people with high blood pressure have higher baseline levels of blood fats, insulin and inflammation compared with people with normal blood pressure, and higher blood fats following a fatty meal. The present study however was the first to investigate and compare responses between the two groups following a nutritionally balanced meal.

Senior author Dr Cristina Menni, from the School of Life Course & Population Sciences and a TwinsUK researcher, said: “We’d like to thank all of the participants who spent a full day in clinic and then two weeks meticulously logging their meals and collecting blood samples at home. It’s because of your dedication that we are able to advance health research.”