Overweight or obese kids at almost three times greater risk of high blood pressure

Overweight or obese children are at three times greater risk for high blood pressure than children of normal weight, according to researchers from the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Medicine.

Their study appears in the November 2011 issue of : Journal of the with advance online publication on Oct. 3.

More than 1,100 healthy Indiana school children were followed for nearly five years. The researchers found that when (BMI) reached or exceeded the 85th percentile for the age and gender of the child — designated as being overweight — the risk of high blood pressure nearly tripled. Obesity was defined as a BMI percentile higher than 95th.

BMI is a measurement of body fat calculated from weight and height.

Among study participants, 14 percent of overweight or were pre-hypertensive or hypertensive, compared to 5 percent of normal weight children. These findings were consistent across age, gender and race.

The average age at time of study enrollment was 10.2 years. Each child was assessed approximately eight times during the course of the study. All were healthy children and none were taking medication affecting blood pressure.

"Higher blood pressure in childhood sets the stage for high blood pressure in adulthood," said Regenstrief Institute Investigator Wanzhu Tu, Ph.D., professor of biostatistics at IU School of Medicine, who led the study. "Targeted interventions are needed for these children. Even small decreases in BMI could yield major health benefits."

The researcher found that leptin, a protein hormone which is involved in body weight regulation and metabolism, was positively associated with increased blood pressure in overweight and obese children.

"Previous studies overestimated the effect of BMI on blood pressure in children of normal weight and underestimated the effect of high BMI on overweight and obese children. Now we see the significantly greater of in overweight and obese children. But we don't yet know what makes blood pressure go up when there is an increase in the BMI percentile and the mechanisms involved in that process," Dr. Tu said.

Related Stories

Identifying Risk for Obesity in Early Childhood

date Sep 05, 2006

A new research study of children’s growth, published in the September issue of Pediatrics, can help parents and pediatricians determine the risk that a child will be overweight at age 12 by examining the child’s earlie ...

Can't chalk it up to 'baby fat'

date Dec 29, 2008

Despite recent widespread media attention given to studies that have indicated one-third of American children have a weight problem, a new study shows just one-third of children who are overweight or obese actually receive ...

Recommended for you

Europe faces massive obesity problem: study

date 2 hours ago

Nearly all Irish adults are likely to be overweight in 15 years' time, said a study Wednesday that warned of a European "obesity crisis of enormous proportions".

Why some of us are fat, and others aren't

date May 04, 2015

The obesity epidemic is not an American phenomenon. About 37 percent of the world's adults are overweight or obese, and no nation has been able to claim even a tiny reversal in the trend in the last 33 years.

Genetic factors may affect exercise benefit

date May 04, 2015

Resistance exercise has well-known health benefits, but the magnitude of those benefits may differ according to an individual's genetic make-up. Women with a high genetic risk of obesity may benefit less ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.