Anthropometric characteristics and dietary habits are widely recognized to influence blood pressure. We evaluated their role in a large series of Mediterranean adult women.
In Florence, in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, we recruited 10 083 women, aged 35–64 years. Detailed information on diet, lifestyle, physical activity, and medical history were collected. Anthropometric indices and systolic and diastolic blood pressures were measured at recruitment using standardized procedures. Overall, after excluding those women who reported a clinical diagnosis of hypertension and/or an antihypertensive treatment and those without measurements, 7601 women were available for analyses with an average systolic and diastolic blood pressure value of 123.2 ± 16.0 and 78.7 ± 9.4 mmHg, respectively.
Multivariate regression models showed that body mass index (P < 0.0001) and waist circumference (≥88 cm, P < 0.0001), as well as processed meat, potatoes, and wine consumption, were directly associated with both systolic and diastolic values. In contrast, a high consumption of selected foods resulted inversely associated with systolic (total vegetables, yoghurt, and eggs), diastolic (olive oil) or both systolic and diastolic values (leafy vegetables, milk, coffee). Analyses performed on nutrients showed a positive association with alcohol and sodium intake, and an inverse one with potassium and micronutrients derived from fruits and vegetables.
In this large series of women from Tuscany, Central Italy, we confirm the independent influence of anthropometric characteristics on blood pressure. The role of specific foods and nutrients in modulating blood pressure also emerged, suggesting a central role for lifestyle modifications in blood pressure control.