Independent association of resting energy expenditure with blood pressure: confirmation in populations of the African diaspora

Background: Obesity is a major risk factor for hypertension, however, the physiologic mechanisms linking increased adiposity to elevations in blood pressure are not well described. An increase in resting energy expenditure (REE) is an obligatory consequence of obesity. Previous survey research has demonstrated that REE is an independent predictor of blood pressure, and eliminates the co-linear association of body mass index. This observation has received little attention and there have been no attempts to provide a causal explanation. Methods: At baseline in an international comparative study on obesity, 289 participants aged 25–44 were recruited from communities in the US, the Seychelles, Ghana and South Africa and had REE measured with indirect calorimetry. All participants were thought to be free of major illness. Results: In multivariate regression models, both systolic and diastolic blood pressure were positively associated with REE (p < 0.01), while body mass index and fat mass were negatively correlated with systolic blood pressure (p < 0.01, and p < 0.05 respectively), but not diastolic blood pressure. Conclusions: These data confirm previous reports and suggest that a common physiologic abnormality links REE and blood pressure. Elevated catecholamines, a putative metabolic characteristic of obesity, is a possible candidate to explain this association. The direct role of excess adipose tissue is open to question.