Obesity is one of the strongest predictors of hypertension in young adults.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracked the health and nutrition of Americans in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys for more than forty years. NHANES I encompassed the years 1971-1974, NHANES II covered 1976-1980, NHANES III covered 1988-1994 and the most recently completed survey, NHANES IV, part I, followed Americans from 1999-2000.
Comparing data from the four surveys, researchers found a trend between overweight and high blood pressure in children 8 to 17 years-old. Rebecca Din-Dzietham, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., assistant professor in the social epidemiology research division of the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine, and colleagues analyzed data on 3,417 children from NHANES I, 3,039 from NHANES II, 3,432 from NHANES III and 2,211 from NHANES IV. They recorded age, gender, blood pressure and body mass index (BMI, an index of height-adjusted weight) on black and white children.
The researchers categorized the children based on definition from the National Task Force on High Blood Pressure in Children and Adolescents. Children with blood pressure in the 90th percentile or above were classified as having high blood pressure. Children with BMI in the 95th percentile or above were classified as obese according to the CDC growth chart. Overweight was defined as BMI in the 85th to 94.9th percentile range. Normal weight was below the 85th percentile.