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Even Small Weight Gains Raise Blood Pressure.

Staying active and healthy in college is important; even small weight gains can translate to increases in blood pressure and complications down the road.

It’s back-to-school time! And with 150 million individuals heading to university around the world, the dreaded “freshman 15” will be on many minds. According to research and contrary to popular belief, most university students don’t actually gain 15 pounds their first year. The real number is closer to 5 pounds.

Still, as reported by a new University of Illinois study, even small annual weight gains can raise blood pressure in young folks – and the effect is even worse for young women. For the study, data was collected from 795 students ages 18 – 20 over the course of one year.

According to Margarita Teran-Garcia, a professor at the university:

In our study, a small weight gain was enough to raise a college student’s systolic blood pressure by 3 to 5 points. If young people continue to gain 1.5 pounds a year and think it doesn’t matter, they’re misleading themselves and increasing their risk for heart disease.

But there’s some good news. The reverse was also true. In other words, even small reductions in body weight were associated with improved blood pressure. And over time, those small changes add up.

If you’re a university student in need of some guidance, check out my 11 tips to avoid the freshman 15.

And remember, by making simple and small changes to your diet and activity level, you’re able to vastly improve your health and prevent larger complications down the road.