Europeans tend to be a bit sniffy about the health of their cousins on the 'other side of the pond'. Americans are viewed as obese, energetic consumers of fast foods, and candidates for heart problems.
But a new study may make them rethink their prejudices. It discovered that blood pressure is far higher, on average, among people from any six European countries than that found in Americans or Canadians.
Germans of all ages had the highest measurements of systolic and diastolic blood pressures, while Americans had the lowest for each age grouping.
Germany also had the highest prevalence of hypertension, while Americans had the lowest, but 52 per cent of Americans with hypertension were taking drugs to control it compared with just 26 per cent of Germans.
England had the second highest prevalence of hypertension, 24.8 per cent of whom took antihypertensives.
So what's the moral of these findings? Not to eat fast food, surely. But perhaps it does put a question mark over the theory that obesity and diet lead necessarily to hypertension.
(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2003; 289: 2363-9).