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Apr 14, 2015 08:22 AM EDT

Eating Out Frequently May Be Linked To High Blood Pressure

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There may be an association between meals eaten away from home and high blood pressure, according to a recent study.

Researchers from the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore found that eating out have been shown to be associated with higher caloric intake, higher saturated fat intake and higher salt intake. These eating patterns are thought to cause high blood pressure.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the leading risk factor for death associated with cardiovascular disease worldwide. Studies have shown that young adults with pre-hypertension, or slightly elevated blood pressure, are at very high risk of hypertension.

For the study, researchers surveyed 501 university-going young adults aged 18 to 40 years in Singapore. Data on blood pressure, body mass index and lifestyle, including meals eaten away from home and physical activity levels, were collected. Their association with hypertension was then determined.

Using statistical analysis, the team found that pre-hypertension was found in 27.4 percent of the total population, and 38 percent ate more than 12 meals away from home per week; while the gender breakdown showed that pre-hypertension was more prevalent in men (49 percent) than in women (9 percent). 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.

They found that even eating one extra meal out, raised the odds of prehypertension by 6 percent.

"While there have been studies conducted in the United States and Japan to find behaviors associated with hypertension, very few have surveyed a Southeast Asian population," Tazeen Jafar, who supervised the study, said in a statement. "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."

The findings, which are detailed in the American Journal of Hypertension, can be used to modify behavior through changes in clinical and policy recommendations.

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