Group ErikssonBirth weight modifies the association between a healthy Nordic diet and office blood pressure in old age
This study shows that a higher adherence to a healthy Nordic diet is associated with lower systolic blood pressure in individuals born with a low birth weight.
The environment encountered during prenatal life exerts an influence on many physiological functions and seems to influence the risk of several non-communicable diseases in adult life. Epidemiological evidence suggests that impaired fetal growth is a strong predictor of hypertension, type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular heart disease. Consequently, a small body size at birth has been associated with several adverse health outcomes including elevated blood pressure. An unhealthy diet is a known risk factor for hypertension and it is well known that a healthy diet reduces the risk for high blood pressure. The aim of this study was to assess whether body size at birth (birth weight) modifies the association between a healthy Nordic diet and blood pressure. The healthy Nordic diet is characterized by a high intake of Nordic vegetables, fruits, berries, whole-grain rye, oat, barley, and rapeseed oil.
960 Finnish men and women born in 1934-1944 were studied clinically in 2001-2004 (mean age 60 years) and 2011-2013 (mean age 69 years). The interactions between birth weight and Nordic diet on blood pressure change during the 10-year follow-up was assessed. Baseline Nordic diet and birth weight showed a significant interaction on systolic blood pressure (p = 0.02) over a 10-year follow-up. In the lowest birth weight tertile systolic blood pressure decreased across thirds of Nordic diet index score (higher score better) (lowest: 155 mmHg and highest: 145 mmHg, p for linearity = 0.01). In other words, participants belonging to the lowest birth weight category and with a higher adherence to a healthy Nordic diet had lower systolic blood pressure over a 10-year follow-up. In the highest birth weight third, no associations were found.
This study shows that a higher adherence to a healthy Nordic diet is associated with lower systolic blood pressure in individuals born with a low birth weight. These findings strongly support the hypothesis of early life programming of blood pressure as well as the preventive possibilities of a healthy adult lifestyle among those born small.
Meinilä J., Perälä M-M., Kanerva N., Männistö S., Wasenius N., Kajantie E., Salonen M. & Eriksson J. G., (2020). Birth weight modifies the association between a healthy Nordic diet and office blood pressure in old age. Journal of Human Hypertension. doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41371-020-00423-1