Childhood obesity, BP indicate hypertension risk as adults

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Obesity is an evil. It affects both adults and kids alike.

Researchers have found that childhood obesity and occasional hikes in blood pressure readings, a common feature associated with obesity, spur the risk of developing hypertension in later life.

According to the findings of a new study, obese kids are four times more likely to be diagnosed with hypertension in adulthood than their normal weight peers. The risk grows twofold for overweight children.

The study
For the purpose of the study researchers enrolled more than 1,100 healthy boys and girls from Indianapolis. The mean age of the participants was 12.8 years in 1986.

Starting in 1986 until they passed high school, the researchers monitored the height, weight and blood pressure readings of all children biannually.

While two-thirds were normal weight, 16 percent were obese and 16 percent were overweight, the researchers revealed.

After 27 years, at average age of 33.4 years, nearly 26 percent of participants who were obese as children were diagnosed with hypertension as against 14 percent of overweight children and 6 percent of normal weight children.

Children with even occasional hikes in blood pressure readings should be monitored regularly. Children with family history of hypertension and obesity monitored more closely, experts recommend.

“On the other hand, sustained elevation of BP indicates pre-hypertension or hypertension and may require pharmacological treatment and/or significant lifestyle modification. These kids should be encouraged to exercise regularly, reduce dietary sodium intake, and overweight/obese children should work to lose weight,” they added.

“We’ve shown that the risk for hypertension starts in childhood,” study’s lead author Dr. Sara Watson, a pediatric endocrinology fellow at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University in Indianapolis said. “That period is very important. There are changes in obese children that contribute to risk of cardiometabolic diseases.”

High blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and excess belly fat are major risk factors of cardiometabolic diseases. If left unchecked, they can result in heart attack, stroke and even death.

The findings are scheduled to be reported Thursday at an American Heart Association meeting in New Orleans.

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