A new study by Duke NUS Graduate Medical School is the first to show an association between high blood pressure and meals eaten away from home and revealed that lifestyle factors can affect hypertension. The findings were based on the high salt and colorie content of meals eaten away from home.
The research subjects consisted of 501 university going adults aged 18-40 years located in Singapore. The data that was analyzed consisted of high blood pressure, body mass index, and lifestyle including meals away from home and physical activity levels. The association with hypertension was determined by evaluating the data on these risk factors.
Generally high blood pressure or hypertension is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease and an increased mortality rate. Eating patterns associated with a lifestyle that is based on fast food meals reveal that young adults with pre-hypertension, or slightly elevated blood pressure, are at very high risk of hypertension.
The research findings revealed that pre-hypertension was found in 27.4% of the total population, and 38% ate more than 12 meals away from home per week; while the gender breakdown showed that pre-hypertension was more prevalent in men (49%) than in women (9%). Those who had pre-hypertension or hypertension were more likely to eat more meals away from home per week, have a higher mean body mass index, have lower mean physical activity levels, and be current smokers.
“While there have been studies conducted in the United States and Japan to find behaviours associated with hypertension, very few have surveyed a Southeast Asian population,” said Dr. Jafar, who is from the Health Services and Systems Programme at Duke-NUS. “Our research plugs that gap and highlights lifestyle factors associated with pre-hypertension and hypertension that are potentially modifiable, and would be applicable to young adults globally, especially those of Asian descent.”
D. Y. B. Seow, B. Haaland, T. H. Jafar. The Association of Prehypertension With Meals Eaten Away From Home in Young Adults in Singapore. American Journal of Hypertension, 2015; DOI: 10.1093/ajh/hpv027