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Overweight and obese children face high risk of hypertension

High body weight in children and adolescents is strongly associated with the likelihood of hypertension, according to a Kaiser Permanente Southern California study published in The Journal of Clinical Hypertension.

Researchers found that young people who are overweight are twice as likely as their normal-weight peers to have hypertension; moderately obese youths have four times higher risk; and extremely obese children and adolescents are 10 times more likely to have hypertension. The study also found 10 percent of youths who are extremely obese have hypertension and nearly half have occasional blood pressure measurements in the hypertensive range. Earlier studies showed that between 1 to 5 percent of youth have hypertension.

"This study's findings suggest that pediatricians need to be particularly vigilant about screening overweight and obese children for hypertension because high blood pressure can be asymptomatic for many years," said Corinna Koebnick, PhD, lead author and researcher at Kaiser Permanente Southern California's Department of Research & Evaluation.

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