Dining Out and High Blood Pressure

Health Professional

If you choose to eat out for most of your meals, chances are you are probably at increased risk for high blood pressure, according to a new study.

Restaurant foods, whether it be a sit down meal or drive-thru, are typically high in both salt and fat.

A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension is the first to show a direct connection between dining out and high blood pressure.

Up to this point, studies have linked dining out to a higher intake of calories, salt, and saturated fat"all of which are linked to high blood pressure.

Researchers focused on young adults. High blood pressure earlier in life has been associated with future high blood pressure and heart disease risks. Researchers wanted to determine the impact of lifestyle factors on prehypertension and hypertension in young adults.

Prehypertension is defined as a systolic blood pressure between 120-139mm Hg

and/or a diastolic blood pressure between 80-89mm Hg. Hypertension -- another term for high blood pressure - is defined as a systolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 140mm Hg and/or a diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 90mm Hg.

Please note the "and/or" used above. Both numbers do not have to be elevated to be diagnosed with prehypertension or hypertension. If systolic alone is high, that can lead to a diagnosis. If diastolic alone is high the same applies.

Researchers evaluated 501 university adults between the ages of 18-40 years-old. Data collected included blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), and lifestyle factors. Lifestyle factors accessed include meals eaten away from home and physical activity.

Analysis of study results found:

  • 27.4% of participants had prehypertension
  • 49% of male participants and 9% of female participants had prehypertension
  • 38% of participants dined out for more than 12 meals per week
  • 2.2% of participants had hypertension

Researchers found those with prehypertension and hypertension tended to dine out more often, have a higher BMI, and low physical activity versus those without prehypertension and hypertension.

The study found eating just ONE EXTRA MEAL OUT each week increased risk of prehypertension 6%.

Granted, you may not be within the same age range as the participants of this study. However, the findings are still valid for you.

Do you eat out frequently? If so, what steps can you take now to reduce dining out frequency? What healthier meal choices can you make when you do dine out?

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