Connecting Childhood BMI to Adult High BP: New Research Findings

Visual Representation for High Blood Pressure | Credits: Shutterstock
Visual Representation for High Blood Pressure | Credits: Shutterstock

United States: The roots of high blood pressure can be seen in the seeds of today, says new research.

Link Between Childhood BMI and Adult Hypertension

Research has found that children and teenagers with a higher BMI at baseline had high blood pressure in middle age.

Actually, childhood obesity and overweight are in a linear relationship with adult high blood pressure, the researchers determined, as reported by HealthDay.

According to the study, adult high blood pressure risk is more likely if the child is heavier than other children or if he or she puts on more pounds during puberty.

“Our results suggest that preventing overweight and obesity beginning in childhood matters when it comes to achieving healthy blood pressure in later life,” said lead researcher Lina Lilja, a doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

Global Impact of Hypertension

World Health Organization statistics indicate that more than half of the world’s adult population, that is, nearly 1.3 billion people between 30 and 79 years, suffer from hypertension, due to which they have a higher risk of potential stroke, heart attack, and kidney impairment.

A high body-mass index is closely correlated with a raised blood pressure level in adults, but there is still uncertainty as to whether children who are overweight will also share this risk.

Analyzing Longitudinal Data

The researcher investigated a lot more in this study by analyzing the data of almost 1,700 Swedish individuals who were born between 1948 and 1968.

Measurement was performed on these individuals using BMI at ages 7 to 8 and then at 18 to 20. The study was conducted to relate the functional abilities test to the blood pressure readings, systolic and diastolic, at ages 50 to 64.

Systole, which is commonly referred to as Systolic, means that it is the top number of a blood pressure reading and signifies of amounts of pressure available in the arteries during the heart’s contraction phase. The first number (diastolic) corresponds to the arterial pressure waves during the heart rests normally after a tiny beat.

BMI and Blood Pressure

As for each one-unit increase in BMI of children, middle-aged men gained their systolic blood pressure by 1.3 points and their diastolic by 0.75 points in their middle age.

Similar to women, there was a 1-point rise for systolic and 0.53-point rise for diastolic blood pressure in men when the BMI increased for each one-unit during puberty according to outcome.

There was also a similar impact on a 0.96-point increase in systolic and a 0.77-point increase in diastolic blood pressure for a 1-unit change in puberty-related BMI among middle-aged women.

However, there was no obesity in pre-adolescent childhood BMI and later in middle-aged women with high blood pressure.

Implications for Health Interventions

The results of the study will be shown at the European Congress on Obesity’s gathering, which is going to be held in Venice in mid-May.

“Although the differences in blood pressure are not very large if blood pressure is slightly elevated over many years, it can damage blood vessels and lead to cardiovascular and kidney disease,” said researcher Dr. Jenny Kindblom from Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden.

Kindblom says that too much fat in childhood may result in low-level chronic inflammation and systemic blood vessel problems that could increase the risk of high blood pressure in later life, as reported by HealthDay.

“Children and teenagers living with overweight, or obesity might benefit from targeted initiatives and lifestyle modifications to reduce the disease burden which comes up with high blood pressure in later life from diseases which are heart attacks, strokes, and kidney damage,” Lilja said in a meeting news release.