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Weight Gain and Muscle DNA Damage



I have written in columns before about the benefits of calorie restricted diets. Numerous research studies have explored the role of weight in a variety of factors from inflammation to cancer. In an effort to further clarify the role of weight gain on the body a group at the University of Chile evaluated muscle tissue taken from volunteers during abdominal hernia surgery (Clin Nutr 2006;25(6):968-976).

One group of subjects reported themselves as weight maintainers (WM) having gained less than 4 kg (almost 9 pounds) in the ten years prior to the study. A second group was made up of those that identified themselves as having gained more than 5 kg (11 pounds) during the same period. Biopsies were taken from a control group of elderly participants as well. Obese volunteers were excluded as well as those with major health issues such as diabetes, sleep apnea or heart disease.

The biopsies showed that the leaner subjects had fewer changes in DNA when compared to those with a Body Mass Index greater than 26. Interestingly, the subjects who were defined as weight gainers (WG) had a greater accumulation of abdominal body fat, higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This group was found to have DNA damage similar to the older age control group.

What this means for you

This is a very small study but a very sophisticated look at how gaining weight might affect the body. It wasn't designed to show what might cause the changes in muscle tissue. Such research is another small bit of evidence that indicates maintaining one's weight at lower BMI over time appears to have marked benefit on health issues.

First posted: January 30, 2007