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The association between body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure is well known in relatively obese populations. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationship between BMI and blood pressure in a lean population. Through cluster sampling, individuals aged >30 years in 190 out of 154 082 districts were selected for study. Among 25 567 eligible individuals, measurements of blood pressure and BMI were made in 22 354.The BMI for males was 22.8 ± 2.7kg/m2 and for females was 23.4 ± 3.2 kg/m2 (means ± SD). Over a BMI range from 16 to 31 kg/m2 the relationships between BMI and systolic and diastolic blood pressure were almost linear. Over the BMI range 25–31 kg/m2 (overweight-to-obese) each BMI unit was associated with a difference of 1.0 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure. Over the BMI range 16–25 kg/m2 (normal-to-lean) each BMI unit was associated with a difference of 0.89 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure.We conclude that a strong association between BMI and blood pressure exists for lean as well as for obese subjects.