Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Obese kids at triple the risk of high BP

Parents beware. Children who are overweight or obese compared to their peers are nearly three times more likely to have high blood pressure, warns a new study.

Wanzhu Tu, Ph.D., from Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, and colleagues followed a total of 1,111 healthy schoolchildren with a mean age of 10.2 years children over a period of 4.5 years.

They found that when the children's body mass index (BMI) reached or passed the 85th percentile - the beginning of the overweight category - the adiposity effect on blood pressure was more than four times that of normal weight children.

Among the study participants, 14 per cent of the blood pressure measurements from overweight/obese children were in prehypertensive or hypertensive levels, compared to 5 per cent in normal weight children.

Blood levels of leptin, a hormone in fat tissues, and heart rate had a similar pattern as blood pressure. So leptin may have played a mediating role in obesity-induced blood pressure elevation, the researchers said.

On average, children in the study underwent 8.2 assessments each, for a total of 9,102 semi-annual blood pressure and height/weight assessments to determine BMI.

"Important questions that remain unanswered are what makes the blood pressure go up when you have an increase in the BMI percentile and what mechanisms are involved in the process," Tu said.

"This study wasn't set up to answer those questions," he said.

Further study may determine how the increase in adiposity affects blood pressure and whether other factors such as leptin, insulin or inflammatory cytokines may play a role.

The finding appears in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

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