Nearly six fold risk of hypertension is seen in obese youths, suggests a research in more than 22,000 young people from the PEP Family Heart Study presented at ESC Congress today by Professor Peter Schwandt from Germany.
Professor Schwandt said: "The prevalence of hypertension and obesity in children and adolescents is continuing to rise in most high and middle-income countries. Because adiposity is considered a driving force for cardiovascular disease, we examined whether elevated blood pressure was associated with body fat distribution in young people."
The current study included 22 051 children and adolescents from the PEP (Prevention Education Program) Family Heart Study (1). In each participant, the researchers measured blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), waist-to-height ratio (WHtR), skinfold thickness (SFT) and percent body fat (%BF).
Professor Schwandt said: "These measures are simple, inexpensive, risk free and can be used in offices, schools and at home. However, they must be performed correctly and age and gender specific cut-off values have to be used in growing children and adolescents." (figure 1) (2)
Prehypertension was defined as a blood pressure reading between the 90th and 95th percentile of the blood pressure curve for children and adolescents, while hypertension was a blood pressure reading over the 95th percentile. The diagnosis was based on several measurements on separate days and on repeated estimations with the child sitting quietly for five minutes. The researchers used an adequate cuff size for the arm in the correct position.
The researchers found that compared with normal weight children and adolescents, the risk of prehypertension was significantly higher in youths with an elevated BMI (3). The risk was 1.6 fold higher in overweight and 2.4 fold higher in obese boys, and 1.8 fold higher in overweight and 3.3 fold higher in obese girls.