New Study Finds That Nutrisystem, with and without Low Intensity Resistance Exercise, Improves Measures of Arterial Function in Obese Postmenopausal Women

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Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in postmenopausal women. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease include obesity and hypertension, and are associated with increased arterial stiffness.

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The public health impact of hardened or stiff arteries in women is under-appreciated, and does not receive the attention of other cardiovascular risk factors.

“The public health impact of hardened or stiff arteries in women is under-appreciated, and does not receive the attention of other cardiovascular risk factors,” says Dr. Arturo Figueroa, Associate Professor at Florida State University and the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences. Figueroa and colleagues were able to demonstrate that a hypocaloric diet may be recommended to reduce the increase in arterial stiffness associated with menopause and obesity. This study has been accepted for publication in the American Journal of Hypertension and was released online by the journal today.    

Figueroa’s 12 week study examined whether the combination of a hypocaloric diet and low intensity resistance exercise can be associated with greater improvements in arterial stiffness and body composition, compared against each of the treatments on their own in overweight or obese, postmenopausal women. His team studied 41 participants, each of which was assigned to one of three treatment groups; low intensity resistance exercise therapy, a hypocaloric diet or a combination of both.

Nutrisystem was utilized for the hypocaloric diet in this study, providing a pre-packaged, structured meal program to the participants. The exercise program consisted of four leg exercises at low intensity, requiring approximately 30 minutes per session.

“The purpose of this study was to combine two practical interventions for this group of women. Nutrisystem is a readily available by home delivery, is easy to follow, and includes support tools for individuals on the program. Likewise, low intensity resistance exercise is something that almost everyone can do; it’s not necessary to own the specific equipment used in this study,” says Dr. Bruce Daggy, co-investigator on the study and Chief Science Officer of Nutrisystem.

It was noted that 39% of the women studied were class II or III obesity, which is associated with a higher risk of mortality.

Figueroa’s team ultimately found that the key to arterial health in obese postmenopausal women is in diet, specifically, a hypocaloric program such as Nutrisystem. Pressure waves generated by contraction of the heart muscle travel faster through stiff arteries, because stiff arteries are not able to expand outward; sensors placed on the subject can detect changes in pulse velocity that result from treatment. The researchers observed improvements in arterial stiffness with diet alone. The findings also indicate that there is an early effect of diet on leg arterial stiffness that influences brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity, a marker of central arterial stiffness. This reduction in arterial stiffness can be considered to have a positive influence on cardiovascular function.

The study also demonstrated an average weight loss of 5.8% (5.1kg) in the group that received the hypocaloric diet, due primarily to a reduction in body fat mass in the abdominal region.

“The results were very pleasing to witness, and could be translated to practice rather easily. The key may be in ensuring adherence to these recommendations, and a structured diet can help in this regard by taking away the guesswork,” said Figueroa.

Among the study other key finding was that the addition of low intensity resistance exercise to a hypocaloric diet can preserve lean mass. This is believed to be demonstrated for the first time, and confirms the potential therapeutic value of this form of exercise in obese individuals who are unable or unwilling to perform high intensity resistance exercise therapy. Maintaining muscle mass and strength is another import health goal in older women.

All participants in this study were non-smokers, in absence of menstruation for at least 1 year, and pre- or stage 1-hypertension aside from being obese. This study was supported by Nutrisystem.

About Nutrisystem
Having helped Americans lose millions of pounds over the last 40 years, Nutrisystem, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTRI) develops evidence-based programs for healthy weight management, and is the leading provider of home-delivered weight loss meal plans. Nutrisystem offers balanced nutrition in the form of low glycemic index meal plans designed for men and women, including seniors, vegetarians and the Nutrisystem® D® program for people with diabetes or at risk for type 2 diabetes. Nutrisystem® plans include a wide variety of pantry and frozen entrees and snacks to aid in program satisfaction and adherence, as well as transition plans to support long-term success. The Fort Washington, PA-based company also provides weight management support and counseling by trained weight-loss coaches and registered dietitians, as well as through an engaged online community, online tools and trackers, mobile apps, cookbooks and more. Healthcare professionals may learn more about the programs by visiting http://www.nutrisystem.com/hcp. Nutrisystem® weight loss plans are available directly to consumers through http://www.nutrisystem.com, by phone (1-800-435-4074) and at select retailers. The Company has also introduced a new in-store retail line, Nutrisystem® Everyday® products, comprised of nutritionally balanced bars, smoothies, bakery and breakfast items aimed at consumers who aspire to eat healthier.

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Meredith Bandy
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