Here is another reason to encourage children to maintain a healthy weight: According to a Kaiser Permanente Southern California study, children who are overweight or obese are at significant risk for developing hypertension.

Published in The Journal of Clinical Hypertension (2013; doi: 10.1111/ jch.12199), the study included data from 237,248 children aged 6–17 during 2007–2009. Subjects had been enrolled in a prepaid health plan. Data was gathered from doctor visit measurements and records that included body mass index and blood pressure. The researchers also looked at socioeconomic status, sex and ethnicity.

Data analysis showed that children with a higher BMI also had higher BP.

Hypertension was twice as common in overweight children as it was in those of normal weight. In obese children, the statistics were worse: “Extremely obese youth were 10.58 times and moderately obese 4.35 times more likely to have hypertension than their normal weight counterparts,” the authors wrote. “This association remained unchanged after adjusting for sex, age and race/ethnicity.”

The authors also noted that BMI and BP tended to be higher in youth aged 12–17.

“Our results suggest that the risk of hypertension in extremely obese children is more than twice that of moderately obese children. This may have serious clinical implications for pediatric populations that have experienced a recent increase in the prevalence of extreme obesity. Our findings strongly support the need for recommendations to screen for hypertension in overweight and obese children at all outpatient medical visits,” concluded the authors.

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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