Health professionals have been urged to be more vigilant against overweight children, as obesity can almost triple their risk of high blood pressure.
US scientists warned that 14% of children categorised as overweight or obese had blood pressure that was at or near “too high” levels, compared with 5% of healthy weight children.
After studying for five years more than 1,100 children with an average age of 10, scientists found that leptin, a hormone involved in metabolism, was linked to increased blood pressure in the children.
Study author Professor Wanzhu Tu, from Indiana University School of Medicine, said: “Higher blood pressure in childhood sets the stage for high blood pressure in adulthood.
“Targeted interventions are needed for these children. Even small decreases in BMI could yield major health benefits.”
The research is published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.
- Tu Wanzhu, et al. Intensified Effect of Adiposity on Blood Pressure in Overweight and Obese Children. Hypertension 2011; Advance online publication