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Hypertension

27 June 2019

Overweight kids are at risk for high blood pressure

A new study found that children who were obese had nearly triple the risk of developing high blood pressure between ages of four and six compared to kids with a healthy weight.

Overweight preschoolers have twice the odds of developing high blood pressure by age six, putting them at risk of heart attack and stroke later in life.

And those odds begin building as early as age four, a new study reports.

Established risk factors

"The myth that excess weight in children has no consequences hampers the prevention and control of this health problem," said study author Dr Inaki Galan, from Carlos III Health Institute in Madrid, Spain.

"Parents need to be more physically active with young children and provide a healthy diet," Galan added. "Women should shed extra pounds before becoming pregnant, avoid gaining excess weight during pregnancy, and quit smoking, as these are all established risk factors for childhood obesity."

For the study, Galan and his team looked at the weight and blood pressure of nearly 1 800 four-year-olds. The children were tested again at age six.

Compared with kids who maintained a healthy weight throughout the study, those who were obese had nearly triple the risk of developing high blood pressure between ages of four and six.

Kids who lost weight did not have the increased risk, the study found.

The report was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

"There is a chain of risk, whereby overweight and obesity lead to high blood pressure, which heightens the chance of cardiovascular disease if allowed to track into adulthood," Galan said in a journal news release. "But the results show that children who return to a normal weight also regain a healthy blood pressure."

Image credit: iStock

 

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Hypertension expert

Dr Jacomien de Villiers qualified as a specialist physician at the University of Pretoria in 1995. She worked at various clinics at the Department of Internal Medicine, Steve Biko Hospital, these include General Internal Medicine, Hypertension, Diabetes and Cardiology. She has run a private practice since 2001, as well as a consultant post at the Endocrine Clinic of Steve Biko Hospital.

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