Researchers have revealed that obese people who follow certain weight-loss diets can develop healthier arteries.
The study found that when weight was lost in moderate amounts, patients were able to reverse life-threatening artery damage.
Diets that proved effective included Mediterranean diets, low-fat diets and low-carbohydrate diets such as the “Atkins” diet.
Researchers said these regimes helped lower the patients’ blood pressure and reduce the thickness of their arteries.
Patients who took part had the thickness and wall volume of their carotid arteries measured by ultrasound. Those with thicker and heavier arteries are at risk from atherosclerosis, a condition closely linked with strokes and heart attacks. The condition results in fatty deposits building up on the blood vessel walls.
The results from the study found that the carotid arteries of patients on the diets had lost 5% of their wall volume on average after two years and 1.1% of their thickness.
Compared with less successful patients, those whose arteries had improved most lost more weight and underwent a greater reduction in blood pressure.
The findings linked sustained moderate weight loss with a reversal of artery damage.
Study leader Dr Iris Shai, from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, said: “The effect is more pronounced among mildly obese persons who lose more than 5.5 kilograms of body weight and whose systolic blood pressure (the pressure with each heart beat) decreases by more than 7 mmHg (millimetres of mercury).”
The findings are reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.