Is Hypertension With Obesity Affected by Race?

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 in Pediatrics.

Joshua Samuels, MD, MPH, 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% were diagnosed with hypertension after showing persistently high readings at 3 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 6-fold and 4-fold, respectively, compared to normal-weight students. Weight-related differences were smaller among black and Asian students. Among black adolescents, 2% of those with a normal weight had hypertension, versus 4.5% 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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Cheung EL, Bell CS, Samuel JP, et al. Race and obesity in adolescent hypertension [published online April 10, 2017]. Pediatrics. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016.1433