A "gender blind" relationship of lean body mass and blood pressure in the Tecumseh study

Stevo Julius*, Silja Majahalme, Shawna Nesbitt, Eric Grant, Niko Kaciroti, Hernando Ombao, Olga Vriz, Maria Consuelo Valentini, John Amerena, Lillian Gleiberman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background: Body size correlates positively with blood pressure (BP) but there is controversy about the roles of obesity versus muscularity in this relationship. Methods: We examined the BP relationship with overweight lean body mass (LBM), and muscle performance in 231 adolescents (17.25 ± 3.07 years, 123 males). The skinfold thickness (SKINT) was used to measure overweight, as this was a growing population. Results: Maximal foot torque, a measure of muscle strength, correlated strongly (r = 0.51, P < .001) to LBM attesting to the validity of the calculated LBM. Anthropometric measurements were available also in 944 adults (29.9 ± 5.5 years, 461 men). Correlations of LBM to systolic (adolescents r = 0.52, adults r = 0.19, both P < .001) and diastolic (adolescents r = 0.47, adults r = 0.20, both P < .001) BP were highly significant. SKINT also correlated significantly to systolic and diastolic BP in adolescents and in adults, respectively. In both genders and populations an increasing SKINT was associated with a similar increase in BP, but this effect was superimposed on an average 10 mm Hg between-gender BP difference. The LBM in both groups and genders related to the BP in an identical fashion; the men were on the high and the women on the low end of the same BP/LBM correlation line. Thus, the amount of LBM erased categoric BP differences between the genders. Conclusions: The gender-related BP differences appear to reflect the inherent gender differences in muscle bulk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)258-263
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Hypertension
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was partially supported by NHL grant 37464.


  • Blood pressure
  • Gender differences
  • Lean body mass
  • Overweight dual-energy x-ray absorbimetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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