Child and Teen Obesity Quickly Raises Blood Pressure

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Thursday, March 3, 2016

Child and Teen Obesity Quickly Raises Blood Pressure

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on U.S. News & World Report.

It doesn't take long for kids to gain enough weight to boost their blood pressure too high, according to a large study published online in the journal Pediatrics. With nearly one-third of U.S. kids either obese or overweight, the new findings have health implications for children, parents and pediatric health providers nationwide.

Study authors Emily Parker, of the HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research in Minneapolis, and colleagues used data from electronic health records of nearly 102,000 kids ages 3 to 17, whose health care providers were one of three U.S major health systems in Colorado, California and Minnesota between 2007 and 2011.

Matching kids' body mass index with their blood pressure readings, the researchers found a "strong association" between increasing BMI and rising blood pressure in the roughly three-year period. Kids who either became or stayed obese had more than triple the risk of developing high blood pressure, according to study findings.

Among children ages 3 to 11, those who were obese had double the risk of developing hypertension compared to healthy-weight kids. Overall, severely obese children and teens had more than four times the risk for high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is only one of many possible health consequences for obese kids. Elevated cholesterol, which also boosts risk for heart disease, is another. Obese children and teens are at greater risk for Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, asthma, fatty liver disease and other medical conditions. And these kid can be vulnerable to emotional and social problems, like bullying and weight bias, that can continue into adulthood.

"The adverse impact of weight gain an obesity in this [age group] over a short period underscores the early need for effective strategies for prevention of overweight and obesity," the researchers concluded.

Source: U.S. News & World Report