Teen obesity ‘strongly linked’ with high blood pressure

A new large study reported in the American Journal of Hypertension shows a strong link between body mass index in teenagers and blood pressure. The researchers say the findings highlight the worrying implications of the rapidly growing global problem of teen obesity.

Teen obesity is a rising problem in many parts of the world. In the US, 17% of youngsters are obese.

There is a lot of evidence linking obesity to higher blood pressure.

However, much of the evidence comes from small studies that have yielded mixed results for younger age groups.

For their study, Dr. Yaron Arbel, of the Department of Cardiology at Tel Aviv Medical Center in Israel, and colleagues analyzed trends in teen obesity from 1998 to 2011 and examined the link between blood pressure and BMI in healthy youngsters.

Strong link between teen BMI and blood pressure

The analysis took in data on 715,000 young people aged 16-20 years, 59% of them male, who underwent medical exams between 1998 and 2011 and were found fit for combat duties in the Israeli Defense Force.

The researchers found a statistically significant link between BMI and blood pressure, both of which rose significantly every year over the period of the study.

Body mass index or BMI is a measure of obesity that is equal to the height of the person in centimeters divided by the square of the weight in kilograms. BMI numbers for adults and teenagers are interpreted differently.

In this study of teenagers, the researchers defined overweight as having a BMI in excess of 25 kg/m2.

Blood pressure measurements comprise two figures: the higher figure is the systolic blood pressure or SBP – when the heart is pushing – and the lower figure is the diastolic blood pressure or DBP – when the heart is relaxing.

The study results show that in 1998, there were 13.2% overweight teenagers in the cohort. By 2011, this proportion had risen to 21%.

Over the same period, the percentage of adolescents with high blood pressure – measured as systolic blood pressure or SBP – rose from 7-28% in males and 2-12% in females.

Read more about the links between high blood pressure and teenage obesity here. Also, if you’re concerned about your blood pressure or about your child’s blood pressure, come into Synergy Immediate Care today to get checked out. Your family will thank you!

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