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Approved Research

The effects of dietary sodium intake and obesity on blood pressure and other health outcomes

Principal Investigator: Dr Qi Feng
Approved Research ID: 65563
Approval date: August 27th 2020

Lay summary

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, has been causing substantial disease burden worldwide, by increasing risk of cardiovascular diseases and mortality. Non-pharmaceutical intervention of hypertension is important. High blood pressure is associated with excessive dietary sodium intake and obesity. Sodium reduction and weight reduction are effective in lowering blood pressure and reducing risk of cardiovascular outcomes. However, these interventions are usually implemented separately in previous randomized trials.

Some studies have shown that dietary sodium intake and obesity are interrelated, that is, sodium intake increases risk of obesity and obesity in turn increases sodium intake, both of which contributing to higher blood pressure. This suggests that sodium intake and obesity may have interaction effect on blood pressure, in addition to their independent effects. Therefore, co-intervention may achieve higher effectiveness in prevention of hypertension. However, before examining this potential interaction effect in a design of randomized controlled trial, which is resources-consuming, more evidence from observational studies are warranted.

Therefore, the aim of our project is to investigate the potential interaction effect of sodium intake and obesity on blood pressure and other health outcomes using UK Biobank cohort. The findings will have significant implication for non-pharmaceutical prevention of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. We estimate the project will take 1.5-2 years.

Scope extension:

The aim of this project is to provide scientific evidence for primary prevention of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases via non-pharmaceutical interventions. Specifically, we are interested in evaluating the potential effect of dietary sodium reduction, weight reduction and their interaction on hypertension prevention, given the high prevalence of excessive sodium intake and overweight/obesity in general population. The research question is: Is there an interaction between dietary sodium intake and obesity in increasing blood pressure and the risk of other health outcomes?

Extended scope:

We would like to extend the current scope to investigating the association between lifestyle factors, not only just dietary sodium intake, with health outcomes. More specifically, we are interested in dietary exposures/behaviors, physical activity, smoking, drinking and sedentary behaviors. By looking at more lifestyle factors in a bigger picture, we intend to provide evidence for more effective non-pharmaceutical intervention strategy for BP and prevention of hypertension as well as other clinical health outcomes.