Health-risk factors and the prevalence of hypertension: cross-sectional findings from a national cohort of 87,143 Thai Open University students
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Thailand is undergoing a health-risk transition which increases chronic diseases, particularly hypertension, as a result of a rapid transition from a developing to a developed country. This study analyzes the effect of health-risk factors such as demography, socioeconomic status (SES) and body mass index (BMI) on the prevalence of hypertension. This was a cross-sectional analysis using data obtained in 2005 from 87,143 Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University (STOU) students participating in the Thai Cohort Study (mean age 30.5 years, 54.7% female). Adjusted odds ratios of the association between risk factors and hypertension were analysed across two age groups by sex, after controlling for the confounding factors such as SES and BMI. The prevalence of hypertension in men was approximately twice as high as that in women (6.9% vs 2.6%). Hypertension was associated with ageing, a lower education attainment, a higher BMI and having underlying diseases in both sexes. In men, hypertension was associated with being single, having a high income, spending more time on screens (TV & PC), cigarette smoking and drinking alcohol. In women, it was directly correlated with instant and roasted or smoked food consumption. Hypertension was highly associated with obesity and having underlying disease. The Thai health-risk transition is in a later stage. Thais should now be educated about the danger of high blood pressure and the protective power of a low fat and low salt diet, and a normal BMI. Cessation of smoking and moderation in alcohol intake should be promoted.
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