Can childhood obesity lead to hypertension?
“Every day it seems that more research is coming out supporting the idea that childhood obesity is not innocent and will have long-term consequences,” says Dr. Aaron Traeger, an Advocate Children’s Medical Group pediatrician at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill.
The study looked at three years’ worth of health data from more than 100,000 children and teens. Results showed a strong association between increases in subjects’ body mass index (BMI – a ratio of weight to height) and increases in their blood pressure and risk for hypertension.
“Obesity, especially severe obesity, at a young age confers an increased risk of early onset of cardiometabolic diseases such as [hypertension],” wrote lead researcher Emily D. Parker of HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research.
While researchers noted that the number of study subjects who developed hypertension was relatively low at 0.3 percent, the fact that it occurred over a short three-year period concerned them.
“The significant adverse effect of weight gain and obesity early in life, and over a short period of time, emphasizes the importance of developing early and effective clinical and public health strategies directed at the primary prevention of overweight and obesity,” Parker wrote.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 12.7 million children and teens in the U.S. are obese. The CDC defines childhood obesity as having a BMI that is higher than 95 percent of other youth of the same age and sex.
“Frequently obesity is a family problem that goes overlooked,” says Dr. Traeger. “But when your child falls into that category, let this be the breaking point to work as motivation for the entire family to make lifestyle changes as a whole.“
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.