Importance: Body mass index (BMI) is positively associated with blood pressure (BP); this association has critical implications for countries like China, where hypertension is highly prevalent and obesity is increasing. A greater understanding of the association between BMI and BP is required to determine its effect and develop strategies to mitigate it. Objective: To assess the heterogeneity in the association between BMI and BP across a wide variety of subgroups of the Chinese population. Design, Setting, and Participants: In this cross-sectional study, data were collected at 1 time point from 1.7 million adults (aged 35-80 years) from 141 primary health care sites (53 urban districts and 88 rural counties) from all 31 provinces in mainland China who were enrolled in the China PEACE (Patient-Centered Evaluative Assessment of Cardiac Events) Million Persons Project, conducted between September 15, 2014, and June 20, 2017. A comprehensive subgroup analysis was performed by defining more than 22000 subgroups of individuals based on covariates, and within each subgroup, linearly regressing BMI to BP. Main Outcomes and Measures: Systolic BP was measured twice with the participant in a seated position, using an electronic BP monitor. Results: The study included 1727411 participants (1027711 women and 699700 men; mean [SD] age, 55.7 [9.8] years). Among the study sample, the mean (SD) BMI was 24.7 (3.5), the mean (SD) systolic BP was 136.5 (20.4) mm Hg, and the mean (SD) diastolic BP was 81.1 (11.2) mm Hg. The increase of BP per unit BMI ranged from 0.8 to 1.7 mm Hg/(kg/m2) for 95% of the subgroups not taking antihypertensive medication. The association between BMI and BP was substantially weaker in subgroups of patients taking antihypertensive medication compared with those who were untreated. In untreated subgroups, 95% of the coefficients varied by less than 1 mm Hg/(kg/m2). Conclusions and Relevance: The association between BMI and BP is positive across tens of thousands of individuals in population subgroups, and, if causal, given its magnitude, would have significant implications for public health.
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