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A systematic review and meta-analysis of elevated blood pressure and consumption of dairy foods


Hypertension is a public health priority in developed countries and worldwide, and is strongly associated with increased risk and progression of cardiovascular and renal diseases. A systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted to examine the association between dairy food intake during adulthood and the development of elevated blood pressure (EBP), specifically comparing the association of EBP with consumption of low-fat dairy foods versus high-fat dairy foods, as well as cheese versus fluid dairy foods (milk or yogurt). Seven databases were searched and five cohort studies selected for inclusion, involving nearly 45 000 subjects and 11 500 cases of EBP. Meta-analysis of consumption of dairy foods and EBP in adults gave a relative risk (RR) of 0.87 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.81–0.94). Separation of high- and low-fat dairy foods, however, indicated a significant association with low-fat dairy foods only (RR of 0.84 (95% CI 0.74–0.95)). Additional analyses showed no association between EBP and cheese, although fluid dairy foods were significantly associated with a reduced development in EBP (RR of 0.92 (95% CI 0.87–0.98)). Little heterogeneity was observed among the data presented. This meta-analysis supports the inverse association between low-fat dairy foods and fluid dairy foods and risk of EBP. Understanding these relationships can aid in the development of public health messages involving dairy foods, and supports current recommendations.

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We acknowledge the National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia ( for funding this project and the Dietitians Association of Australia for overseeing the project and administering the contract. Source of support: this work was undertaken as part of a systematic literature review to update the Dietary Guidelines for Australians by the Dietitians Association of Australia under contract to the National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia. Authorship: RR conducted the November 2009 search, determined studies for exclusion and inclusion, extracted data from retrieved studies, performed the meta-analysis, and drafted the manuscript excepting the introduction. JL recovered the publications, determined studies for exclusion and inclusion, extracted data from retrieved studies and drafted the introduction. HT oversaw and advised the entire study, contributed ideas throughout the review and helped with manuscript revision. CP determined studies for exclusion and inclusion, extracted data from included studies and contributed to manuscript revision. KW oversaw and advised the entire study, designed the review process, chose studies to be retrieved and contributed to manuscript preparation and revision. All authors approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to R A Ralston.

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Ralston, R., Lee, J., Truby, H. et al. A systematic review and meta-analysis of elevated blood pressure and consumption of dairy foods. J Hum Hypertens 26, 3–13 (2012).

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  • blood pressure
  • cheese
  • dairy products
  • milk
  • yogurt

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