Overweight children are twice as likely and obese children are four times as likely to develop hypertension as adults compared with normal-weight children, new data suggest.
At the American Heart Association High Blood Pressure Research 2013 Scientific Sessions, Sara E. Watson, MD, and colleagues presented results of a cohort study started in 1986 that included 1,117 healthy children in Indianapolis.
Participants with BMI percentile values less than 85% were classified as normal weight, those with BMI percentile values of 85% to 94% were classified as overweight, and those with BMI percentile values of at least 95% were classified as obese.
Based on mean or maximum childhood BMI percentile values, 68% of participants were normal-weight children, 16% were overweight and 16% were obese.
Through active follow-up and review of medical records, the researchers identified 119 cases of adult hypertension among the participants.
Adult hypertension was present in 6% of participants who were classified as normal weight in childhood compared with 14% who were classified as overweight and 26% who were classified as obese (P<.0001). Overweight children had a two times greater risk for adult hypertension compared with normal-weight children (OR=2.2; 95% CI, 1.3-3.6) and obese children had a four times greater risk (OR=4.4; 95% CI, 2.8-6.9), as classified by BMI percentile values. Similar associations were observed when obesity was classified by waist circumference or tricep skinfold.
The researchers also found an association between hypertension risk and overweight or obesity in childhood as assessed by maximum BMI percentile values (OR=1.3; 95% CI, 0.7-2.3 for overweight children; OR=2.3; 95% CI, 2.4-5.7 for obese children).
“This [association] has significant implications for early prevention of childhood obesity and public health,” Watson, of Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University, and colleagues wrote in the abstract.
For more information:
Watson SE. Abstract #36. Presented at: the American Heart Association High Blood Pressure Research 2013 Scientific Sessions; Sept. 11-14, 2013; New Orleans.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.