Objective: To describe and evaluate relationships between body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure, cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C), and hypertension and dyslipidemia.
Research methods and procedures: A national survey of adults in the United States that included measurement of height, weight, blood pressure, and lipids (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III 1988-1994). Crude age-adjusted, age-specific means and proportions, and multivariate odds ratios that quantify the association between hypertension or dyslipidemia and BMI, controlling for race/ethnicity, education, and smoking habits are presented.
Results: More than one-half of the adult population is overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9) or obese (BMI of > or =30). The prevalence of high blood pressure and mean levels of systolic and diastolic blood pressure increased as BMI increased at ages younger than 60 years. The prevalence of high blood cholesterol and mean levels of cholesterol were higher at BMI levels over 25 rather than below 25 but did not increase consistently with increasing BMI above 25. Rates of low HDL-C increased and mean levels of HDL-C decreased as levels of BMI increased. The associations of BMI with high blood pressure and abnormal lipids were statistically significant after controlling for age, race or ethnicity, education, and smoking; odds ratios were highest at ages 20 to 39 but most trends were apparent at older ages. Within BMI categories, hypertension was more prevalent and HDL-C levels were higher in black than white or Mexican American men and women.
Discussion: These data quantify the strong associations of BMI with hypertension and abnormal lipids. They are consistent with the national emphasis on prevention and control of overweight and obesity and indicate that blood pressure and cholesterol measurement and control are especially important for overweight and obese people.