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Race Affects Obesity-Related Risk of Adolescent Hypertension

Extra pounds appear more problematic for whites and Hispanics, researchers say

blood pressure cuff

TUESDAY, April 11, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Obese teenagers are at increased risk of hypertension, but the effects of those extra pounds may vary by race and ethnicity, according to a study published online April 10 in Pediatrics.

Joshua Samuels, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and colleagues studied a diverse group of 21,062 Houston adolescents who had their blood pressure screened at school.

The researchers found that, overall, 2.7 percent were diagnosed with hypertension after showing persistently high readings at three screenings. Excess weight was linked to a raised risk of hypertension across all racial and ethnic groups. The impact of obesity was most clear among Hispanic and white adolescents: It raised their risk nearly six-fold and four-fold, respectively, compared to normal-weight students. Weight-related differences were smaller among black and Asian students. Among black adolescents, 2 percent of those with a normal weight had hypertension, versus 4.5 percent of obese adolescents.

"Although an increasing body mass index continues to be strongly predictive of rising hypertension prevalence across all racial and ethnic groups, we have shown that Asian, African-American, Hispanic, and white children exhibit different degrees of synergism between blood pressure and body mass index," the authors write.

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