High blood pressure likely among overweight kids
An alarming new study finds that overweight and obese children are far more likely to develop high blood pressure as compared to their normal weight peers.
Analyzing data from 250,000 children aged 6- to 17-years-old over a 36-month period, researchers at Kaiser Permanente Southern California found that overweight kids are twice as likely to have hypertension. Those who are moderately obese are four times as likely. And children who are extremely obese are 10 times as likely to have high blood pressure. The study was published in the The Journal of Clinical Hypertension.
Researchers said previous studies found that between 1 to 5 percent of youth have hypertension. They hope this new study sounds an alarm and raises awareness especially for doctors.
“This study’s findings suggest that pediatricians need to be particularly vigilant about screening overweight and obese children for hypertension because high blood pressure can be asymptomatic for many years,” said study leader Corinna Koebnick, PhD, in a news release.
Exacerbating the problem, children who have weight problems early on will often carry the extra pounds into adulthood, says Dr. Boguslaw Bonczak, family medicine physician at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill.
“From my observation, if a child is overweight or obese, they will have about an 80 percent chance of being overweight or obese as an adult,” Dr. Bonczak says. “That’s why it’s so important to educate parents about how obesity can impact their child later in life.”
The study results are troubling, but one bright spot shows the upward trend in U.S. childhood obesity looks to be leveling off in some segments of the population.
A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which studied low-income pre-school age children, found the obesity rates among this group have dropped slightly in approximately 19 out of 43 states. However, the obesity rates increased slightly in three states and remained unchanged in 21 states, including Illinois.
Despite this seemingly good news, doctors say parents need to remain diligent in the fight against childhood obesity.
“Our kids eat too much sugar, too much fast food and too many trans fats,” she says. “On the opposite side, they have too few whole grains, fruits and veggies and too little exercise. Parents are the primary influencers in a child’s life. It’s really up to us to set the example.”
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