Childhood Obesity and Risk of Adult Hypertension
Even being overweight when young was found to double high blood pressure risk in long-term study
Families and pediatricians need to keep an eye on kids' body mass index (BMI) and take steps to help children control their weight, Faith and Watson said. BMI is a measurement based on height and weight. Parents should insist that pediatricians track their child's BMI, and be ready to participate in healthy eating and exercise.
"We have good evidence that family treatments for childhood obesity can improve BMI and can improve blood pressure in adolescents," Faith said. "Strategies involving the family can be helpful in reducing childhood obesity. It's important to think of this for the family unit as well."
Other studies presented at the heart association meeting also touched upon children and high blood pressure.
Children who have one or more high blood pressure readings are three times more likely to develop hypertension as adults, one report discovered.
Using the same pool of Indianapolis kids, researchers found that the rate of high blood pressure during adulthood was 8.6 percent for children who didn't have a high reading when they were young. That rate jumped to 18 percent for adults who had at least one high reading as a kid, and 35 percent for adults who had two or more high readings as children.
"This study highlights the need for pediatricians to regularly check blood pressure and weight," study author Wanzhu Tu, a professor of biostatistics at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, said in a news release from the American Heart Association. "An occasional increase in blood pressure does not justify treatment, but it does justify following these children more carefully."
Other research found that measuring the sodium levels of a child's urine can help doctors identify those at risk for adult hypertension.
Doctors used a urine screen to test the amount of sodium retention in a group of 19 children. Sodium retention increases fluid in the blood vessels, which can raise blood pressure.
Eight children were found to be retaining sodium, and of those kids, seven also had high blood pressure.
"Hypertension is no longer an adult disease," senior researcher Gregory Harshfield, director of the Institute of the Georgia Prevention Center at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University in Augusta, explained in the news release.
The data and conclusions of research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.