Aims: Lifestyle behaviours established during adolescence may adversely affect blood pressure (BP) and contribute to gender differences in cardiovascular risk in adulthood. We aimed to assess the association of health behaviours with BP in adolescents, using data from the Western Australian Pregnancy (Raine) Study.

Methods: Cross-sectional analysis on 1248 Raine Study adolescents aged 17 years, to examine associations between lifestyle factors and BP.

Results: Boys had 8.97 mmHg higher systolic BP, as compared with girls. The 30% of girls using oral contraceptives (OC) had 3.27 and 1.74 mmHg higher systolic and diastolic BP, respectively, compared with non-users. Alcohol consumption in boys, increasing body mass index (BMI) and the sodium-potassium ratio were associated with systolic BP. We found a continuous relationship between BMI and systolic BP in both genders; however, the gradient of this relationship was significantly steeper in boys, compared with girls not taking OC. In boys, systolic BP was 5.7 mmHg greater in alcohol consumers who were in the upper quartile of BMI and the urinary sodium-potassium ratio compared with teetotallers in the lowest quartile. In girls, systolic BP was 5.5 mmHg higher in those taking OC, in the highest BMI and urinary sodium-potassium ratio quartile as compared to those not taking the OC pill and in the lowest quartile.

Conclusion: In addition to gender-related differences in the effects of adiposity on BP, we found lifestyle-related health behaviours such as high salt intake for both sexes, consumption of alcohol in boys, and OC use in girls were important factors associated with BP measurements in late adolescence. This suggests that gender-specific behavioural modification in adolescence may prevent adult hypertension.


Peer-reviewed, Oral contraceptives, alcohol consumption, blood pressure, adolescence, gender differences, hypertension, risk factors, lifestyle, salt consumption, body mass index

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