News Monday October 10, 2011

Overweight children at increased risk of high blood pressure, study reveals

A new study from the United States has revealed that children who are overweight or obese are at almost triple the risk of having high blood pressure.

The study, which was undertaken by the Indiana University School of Medicine, studied 1,111 children with an average age of ten in Indiana for five years. The researchers visited the children in school and recorded the height, weight and blood pressure of the children. The Body Mass Index (BMI) of the children was used to classify which children were overweight and which were obese. The children who were in the top 5% of BMI scores were considered to be obese, while the top 15% were overweight. A person’s BMI is a score which relates their height and weight.

Of those children classified as either obese or overweight, 14% had a blood pressure figure that was either high or near too high. Though this figure may seem low, it becomes more alarming when it is considered alongside the fact that of the children who had a normal recorded weight, only 5% had high or near too high blood pressure. This means that overweight or obese children were almost at triple the risk of having high blood pressure. The results of the study were printed in Hypertension, the journal for the American Heart Association.

The author of the study, Professor Wanzhu Tu, quoted by WebMD, said that “[h]igher blood pressure in childhood sets the stage for high blood pressure in adulthood. Targeted interventions are needed for these children. Even small decreases in BMI could yield major health benefits.”

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