Virginia Tech study documents hypertension association with obesity and heavy alcohol consumption

NEW ORLEANS, April 22, 2002 Race and ethnicity, age, obesity, and heavy alcohol consumption are strongly associated with hypertension in both men and women over the age of 40, according to the results of a study by Virginia Tech researchers to be presented at the Experimental Biology 2002 conference, being held in New Orleans through April 24.

"Our findings demonstrate the importance of maintaining proper weight to prevent and control hypertension," said Richard Forshee, research assistant professor for Virginia Techs Center for Food and Nutrition Policy. "If you are overweight or obese, losing weight will reduce your risk of hypertension and provide other health benefits."

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a serious medical condition affecting approximately 50 million adult Americans. Hypertension is associated with several severe health problems, including increased risk of stroke and coronary heart disease.

Forshee and Maureen Storey, acting director of the Center for Food and Nutrition Policy, analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III, a nationally representative survey of the diet and health of Americans. Their findings will be presented on Wednesday, April 24, from 8 to 9 a.m. and will be exhibited in two posters all day at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

Storey's and Forshee's findings include:

  • For both men and women, the level of obesity is strongly related to hypertension. Men and women with a body mass index of over 40 were five times more likely to have hypertension than were men and women at the recommended index level of 25 or less. Even being slightly overweight, with an index level of 25 to 30, increased the risk of hypertension by 51 percent for men and 71 percent for women.

  • African-Americans are at a greater risk of hypertension than are whites. Controlling for other factors, including body mass index, African-American men were

Contact: Stewart MacInnis
Virginia Tech

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