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In Belgium, an affluent Western European country, participation in sports, alcohol intake, and living in a working class area were identified as the life style factors with the closest associations with the blood pressure level. Obesity was another important blood pressure correlate. Sodium intake, determined from the 24 h urinary output, and smoking were not associated with blood pressure. Controlled intervention studies have proven that weight reduction, endurance training and alcohol abstinence effectively reduce blood pressure. In the light of these intervention studies, the Belgian findings and the published work highlight the potential of preventive strategies aimed at these major life style factors.