Blood Pressure Screenings Encouraged for All Obese Children

NOVEMBER 14, 2013
The researchers of a recent study suggest that all obese children should be screened for hypertension after finding that obese children and teenagers are at a substantially increased risk for developing hypertension compared with normal-weight children.

The cross-sectional study, published online on October 9, 2013, in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension, used the Children’s Health Study conducted from 2007 to 2009 at Kaiser Permanente Southern California to evaluate the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure in children. A total of 237,248 children and teens aged 6 to 17 years were included in the analysis.

Overall, 31.4% of children had prehypertension and 2.1% had hypertension. The results indicated that as BMI increased, the risk for hypertension also increased. After adjusting for sex, age, race, and ethnicity, only 0.9% of normal-weight children had hypertension compared with 3.8% of moderately obese and 9.2% of extremely obese children.

The authors conclude that children and adolescents with a BMI at or above the 94th percentile for their age are at the greatest risk for hypertension.

“Our findings strongly support the need for recommendations to screen for hypertension in overweight and obese children at all outpatient medical visits,” they write.

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