May 20, 2013 | 10:20 AM (BD Time)
20 May, 2013 Monday
Overweight kids at greater risk for high blood pressure
Overweight or obese children are nearly three times as likely to have high blood pressure as kids who are a normal weight, according to a new study from the American Heart Association.
The increased risk applies to children of all ages, researchers said. Their advice: Parents and doctors should help children lose excess weight now to prevent high blood pressure from affecting them as adults. In conducting the study, researchers followed 1,111 healthy Indiana school children, whose average age was 10, for 4.5 years. They found that when the children became overweight (having a body mass index, or BMI, at or above the 85th percentile), the amount of fat under their skin and surrounding their major organs, known as adiposity, harmed their health.
The study, published Oct. 3 in the journal Hypertension, revealed when the kids reached the overweight or obese category, the adiposity effect on their blood pressure was more than four times that of normal-weight children.
"Higher blood pressure in childhood sets the stage for high blood pressure in adulthood," said study lead author Wanzhu Tu, a biostatistics professor at Indiana University School of Medicine, in a Heart Association news release. "Targeted interventions are needed for these children. Even small decreases in BMI could yield major health benefits." The researchers found 14 percent of the blood pressure measurements from overweight or obese children were at prehypertensive or hypertensive levels, compared with 5 percent of normal weight children. They also noted that blood levels of a hormone found in fat tissue, called leptin, and heart rate had a similar pattern as blood pressure.
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