A new study published in the journal, Hypertension, shows that a child who is overweight is at risk of high blood pressure, three times more than an average weight child. In this study 1,111 children were followed up for an average of four years. Height weight and blood pressure of the participating children were measured twice a year. About 45% of the children in the study were above the 85th percentile in the growth chart, which is considered to be overweight.
The results of the study shows that 14% of children who were overweight had high blood pressure when compared to normal weight children, among whom only 5% elevated blood pressure. The study also reports that the extra weight is especially dangerous for those children who are already big in stature.
Researcher Wanzhu Tu, PhD, a research scientist at Regenstrief Institute and professor of biostatistics at Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, even a small increase in the body mass index of the overweight or obese children leads to an increase in the blood pressure. “In the same way, loss of weight in these children provides benefits in terms of decreasing the blood pressure," Tu adds. The risk remained the same irrespective of the child’s gender or race.
Stephen R. Daniels, MD, PhD, chairman of the department of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, feels that the results of the study is a wake up call for all the pediatricians as overweight children were considered to be lower-risk category and doctors need to worry about these children. Other experts feel that the findings are really concerning as an elevated blood pressure in children increases the health complications.
Children who have a high blood pressure are known to develop into adults with increased blood pressure and moreover, elevated blood pressure in kids may lead to organ damage like the heart, blood vessels and the kidneys. According to another study, high blood pressure in kids may affect attention, problem solving, and memory.
Bonita Falkner, MD, professor of medicine and pediatrics at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, feels that doctors should consider the childhood origins of adult diseases more seriously and this is a risk that is now rather in the future.