Obese children quadruple their risk and overweight children double their risk of developing hypertension in adulthood, according to a study.
Researchers tracked the growth and blood pressure of 1,117 healthy adolescents from Indianapolis for 27 years, starting in 1986. During childhood, 68% of the children were a normal weight, 16% were overweight and 16% were obese.
As adults, 119 of the participants were diagnosed with hypertension; 6% of normal-weight children had hypertension as adults, compared with 14% of overweight children and 26% of obese children.
The findings, presented Sept. 12 at the American Heart Association High Blood Pressure Research Scientific Sessions in New Orleans, highlight the public health threat posed by overweight and obesity in childhood, according to a news release.
One in three U.S. children and teens is overweight or obese, meaning a body mass index of at least the 85th percentile or at least the 95th percentile, respectively, for their age and gender.
The study results reflect the growing body of evidence that heart disease may start in childhood, said Sara E. Watson, MD, study author and a pediatric endocrinology fellow at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University in Indianapolis.
It is important that pediatricians counsel patients on the risk of high blood pressure associated with overweight and obesity, and stress that a healthy diet, including reducing salt intake and exercise, may help reduce this risk, Watson said in the news release. Interventions to prevent and treat obesity will play an important role in decrease the significant burden of high blood pressure in adulthood.
Study abstract (scroll down to #036): http://bit.ly/1bfqsNw.