JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Blood pressure in obese and overweight children and adolescents.

BACKGROUND: The prevalence of obesity in children and adolescents has increased dramatically in the last few decades. Primary hypertension, a known secondary complication among obese adults, has been considered rare in children.

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the prevalence of hypertension and its relation to body mass index (BMI) in obese children aged 9-17 years in Israel.

METHODS: Weight, height, BMI, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP) (twice) were measured in children attending general and pediatric endocrine clinics. Obesity was defined as BMI > or = 95th percentile and overweight as BMI > or = 85th percentile. Pre-hypertension and hypertension were defined as systolic and/or diastolic BP > or = 90th percentile for age, gender and height and BP > or = 95th percentile respectively. In children with pre-hypertension or hypertension, repeated measurements were performed.

RESULTS: We evaluated 264 children of whom 152 had BMI > or = 85th percentile (study group). Their mean age was 12.5 years. The prevalence of elevated BP (both pre-hypertension and hypertension) in the study group was 44.1% and 31% at the first and second measurements respectively, compared to 11.6% and 1.9% in the normal-weight group. Hypertension was documented in 17.2% of the study group at the second measurement.

CONCLUSIONS: Elevated BP was diagnosed in 31% of overweight and obese children and adolescents. Increased awareness and early diagnosis and treatment are essential.

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