Obesity Can Send Kids' Blood Pressure Soaring
Losing weight can bring it back in line, expert says
By Steven Reinberg
FRIDAY, Feb. 19, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Children and teens who become or stay obese may quickly face up to three times the risk of developing high blood pressure compared to their slimmer peers, a new study says.
These findings are of particular concern because the high blood pressure in kids who went from overweight to obese, or those who stayed obese, developed in a short time -- the study only lasted three years.
"These findings underscore the importance of developing and implementing early and effective clinical and public health strategies for obesity prevention," said lead researcher Emily Parker. She is a research investigator at the HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research in Bloomington, Minn.
For the study, Parker and her colleagues collected data on more than 100,000 children and teens listed in the records of three major health systems in California, Colorado and Minnesota between 2007 and 2011. The children ranged in age from 3 and 17 years old.
During the three-year study, 0.3 percent of the children and teens developed high blood pressure.
"Having high blood pressure in children and adolescents is pretty rare, and we still need to know more about whether or not high blood pressure leads to greater risk of cardiovascular events later in life for these kids," Parker said.
The researchers found that kids between 3 and 11 years old who went from overweight to obese had more than twice the odds of developing high blood pressure during the short study period. For older kids -- those from 12 to 17 -- the odds of high blood pressure were more than tripled, the research revealed.
When the researchers looked at the difference between children who were obese and severely obese throughout the study period, they found that the risk of high blood pressure was doubled for those who were obese. But for those who were severely obese, the risk more than quadrupled.
Children who were severely obese fell into the 99th percentile for higher body mass index (BMI, a ratio of weight to height) for their age and gender. Obese kids were those whose BMI fell in the 95th to 98th percentile for their age and gender, the study said.