• Study: Childhood obesity quadruples chances of adult hypertension

    October 3, 2013

    Obese children have a four
    times greater risk of having
    high blood pressure when
    they reach adulthood compared
    to normal weight kids,
    new research shows.
    The study authors also
    found that overweight children
    had double the risk of
    high blood pressure, or hypertension,
    later in life.
    “We’ve shown that the risk
    for hypertension starts in
    childhood,” said study author
    Dr. Sara Watson, a pediatric
    endocrinology fellow
    at Riley Hospital for Children
    at Indiana University in
    Indianapolis. “That period
    is very important. There are
    changes in obese children
    that contribute to risk of
    cardiometabolic diseases.”
    So-called cardiometabolic
    diseases are caused by high
    blood pressure, high blood
    sugar and cholesterol levels,
    and excess belly fat.
    If left unchecked, high
    blood pressure can lead to
    cardiovascular disease, heart
    attack and stroke.
    Starting in 1986, the researchers
    tracked the development
    of over 1,100
    healthy adolescents from Indianapolis.
    Doctors checked
    their height, weight and
    blood pressure twice a year,
    finding that about two-thirds
    were normal weight, while 16
    percent were obese and 16
    percent were overweight.
    The researchers followed
    up this year with the nowadult
    study participants.
    About 26 percent of obese
    children had ended up with
    high blood pressure as adults,
    compared with 14 percent of
    overweight children and just
    6 percent of normal weight
    children. The team was
    scheduled to report on its
    data Thursday at an American
    Heart Association meeting
    in New Orleans.
    Watson said the increased
    risk for kids who are simply
    overweight is in some ways
    more troubling than the risk
    associated for obese children.
    “The risk is double for the
    kids that are overweight,”
    Watson said. “Right now, a
    lot of our focus is on obese
    children, but I think it’s important
    when kids are in the
    overweight category to address
    them as well, because
    their risk is high, too.”
    The 27-year study is important
    “because there are
    relatively few studies that
    have been done looking at
    the long-term impact of
    childhood obesity on adult
    health,” said Myles Faith, an
    associate professor of nutrition
    at the Gillings School of
    Global Public Health at the
    University of North Carolina,
    in Chapel Hill. “It takes
    a long time to see the development
    of disease, and following
    children over time is
    a mighty work. These longterm
    studies are a precious
    resource for science.”

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