Eating patterns of Australian adults: associations with blood pressure and hypertension prevalence

Eur J Nutr. 2019 Aug;58(5):1899-1909. doi: 10.1007/s00394-018-1741-y. Epub 2018 Jun 6.


Purpose: Eating patterns have been linked to obesity, an established risk factor for hypertension; however, their contribution to hypertension is poorly understood. This study aimed to examine associations of frequency of meals, snacks and all eating occasions (EO), and temporal eating patterns, with blood pressure (BP) and hypertension.

Methods: Dietary data collected via two 24-h recalls during the 2011-2012 Australian National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (n = 4482 adults, ≥ 19 years) were analysed. Frequencies of EO, meals, and snacks were calculated. Temporal eating patterns were determined using latent class analysis. Multivariate regression models assessed associations of eating patterns with systolic BP (SBP), diastolic BP (DBP), and hypertension prevalence.

Results: Among men, a higher snack frequency was inversely associated with DBP [β = - 0.59, 95% confidence interval (CI) (- 1.12, - 0.07)] and hypertension [odds ratio (OR) 0.86, 95% CI (0.75, 0.98)] after adjustment for covariates and BMI. However, these associations disappeared after additional adjustment for total energy intake and overall diet quality. Among women, a temporal eating pattern characterized by a later "lunch" meal was associated with SBP [β = 2.45, 95% CI (0.05, 4.84)], DBP [β = 1.69, 95% CI (0.25, 3.13)], and hypertension [OR = 1.49, 95% CI (1.00, 2.22)], when compared to a "conventional" eating pattern.

Conclusions: In this study, an inverse association found between snack frequency and BP among men disappeared after adjustment for dietary factors and a "later lunch" pattern was associated with higher BP in women. Future research is needed to understand the relationship and potential mechanistic pathways between eating patterns and BP.

Keywords: Blood pressure; Circadian rhythms; Eating frequency; Eating patterns; Meal timing; Meals; Snacks.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet / methods*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence