Extra Pounds Put Kids at Higher Risk for Hypertension
Researchers divided average body weight into low (5th through 39th percentile), medium (40th through 59th percentile), and high (60th through 84th percentile) to provide insight into the risk of hypertension at a weight below what would typically be considered overweight. Unlike in adults, BMI levels among children and teens need to be expressed relative to other people of the same age and sex.
- Compared to youths in the medium range of average weight, the risk of developing hypertension within 5 years was 26% higher for youths at the high end of the average weight range.
- Children gain weight over time. Every BMI unit gained per year increases their risk of hypertension by 4%.
- The rate of hypertension was higher among boys than girls, and among youth on state-subsidized health plans in comparison to those not on state-subsidized health plans.
“This study underscores the need for medical professionals to reevaluate how we correlate and educate about health risks across the spectrum of weight in growing children,” said the study’s senior author, Poornima Kunani, MD, a pediatrician and researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Manhattan Beach Medical Office. “Obesity may be the most important risk factor for hypertension during childhood. Parents should talk to their pediatrician to see if your child might be at risk for hypertension and other preventable chronic medical conditions related to obesity. They can help you with strategies for developing habits to keep your child healthy through adulthood.”
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