OBJECTIVE: We studied the effect of weight reduction on cardiac parasympathetic activity (PSA) in obese women. We also studied the relationship between the changes of PSA, resting energy expenditure (REE), and major cardiovascular risk factors. RESEARCH METHODS AND PROCEDURES: Changes of cardiac vagal tone, an index of PSA, REE, and major cardiovascular risk factors, were measured in 52 healthy obese women after a 6-month weight reduction. Ten of the women were remeasured at 12 and 24 months. Cardiac vagal tone was assessed by a vagal tone monitor and REE by indirect calorimeter. RESULTS: Cardiac vagal tone increased significantly (p = 0.046), averaging a 9.5% weight loss in 6 months. The vagal tone increased further with weight loss during the following 6 months, and thereafter, it declined with weight regain. The increase of cardiac vagal tone correlated significantly with decreases of body weight, fat mass, waist circumference, serum insulin, and heart rate. REE adjusted for fat-free mass and age did not change with weight loss and was not related to cardiac vagal tone at any time-point. DISCUSSION: Cardiac PSA activity increases with weight loss in obese women. This increase may not be maintained long-term if body weight is regained. The rise of cardiac PSA is correlated with decreases of body fat mass, abdominal fat, serum insulin, and heart rate. Cardiac PSA is not related to REE.
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