Although most health experts recognize that overweight adults have elevated risks of high blood pressure, hypertension usually is classified as an adult condition. Now, however, in a health news shocker, Kaiser Permanente researchers have discovered that overweight kids are twice as likely to have high blood pressure as normal weight children, reported U.S. News & World Report on October 10.
To extract these statistics, researchers analyzed the health records of about 250,000 children, ranging in age from six to 17. For those who were obese, the numbers were even more shocking. The risk is:
- Four times higher in moderately obese children and teens.
- Ten times higher in those who were extremely obese.
So just how many kids and teens are impacted? Almost half of extremely obese children and teens occasionally have high blood pressure, and 10 percent have high blood pressure. What's particularly scary: Hypertension does not always have recognizable symptoms.
"This study's findings suggest that pediatricians need to be particularly vigilant about screening overweight and obese children for hypertension because high blood pressure can be asymptomatic for many years," said study lead author Corinna Koebnick, a researcher at Kaiser Permanente Southern California's Department of Research and Evaluation.
The researchers emphasize that it's essential for pediatricians to monitor blood pressure in children.
"While it is generally recommended that pediatricians measure blood pressure in children 3 years and older at every health care visit, this study shows the importance of screening overweight and obese young people in particular as they have an increased likelihood of hypertension," said study co-author Dr. David Cuan, of the department of pediatrics at Kaiser Permanente Riverside Medical Center, in Riverside, Calif.
And the risks of high blood pressure are life-threatening.
"High blood pressure in children is a serious health condition that can lead to heart and kidney disease," said Dr. Cuan.
Currently in this nation, one in three children in the United States is overweight or obese. Find out how Chelsea Clinton is helping to battle childhood obesity by clicking here.