October 17, 2011
Obese teenage girls suffer from more severe hypertension than obese teenage boys, researchers from the University of California at Merced reported in the American Physiological Society conference.
Dr. Rudy Ortiz PhD, Associate Professor of Physiology and Nutrition, and colleagues studied 1,700 teenage boys and girls between 13 and 17 years of age. They had their blood pressure measured during a school district health survey. Their weight, height were taken, and body mass index (BMI) were also calculated.
The researchers found that among the teenagers, BMI was closely linked to mean SPB (systolic blood pressure) for both the girls and boys, and the higher the BMI, the higher their SPB tended to be.
“We were able to categorize the students in different ways, first based on BMI within each of three blood pressure categories. Then we flipped that around and looked at each category of blood pressure for different weight categories. In each case, we are looking at SBP as the dependent variable,” Ortiz told Medical News Today.
According to the researchers, obese teenage males have a 3.5 times higher risk of developing high systolic blood pressure than their peers of normal weight. However, the risk for obese teenage girls was 9 times higher than their peers of normal weight.
Ortiz told Medical News Today he believes the association may be counteracting the protective effect offered by estrogen. “Overall, there is a higher likelihood that those who present with both higher BMI and blood pressure will succumb to cardiovascular complications as adults. But the findings suggest that obese females may have a higher risk of developing these problems than males,” Ortiz said.
According to Medical New Today, the researchers say physical activity may play a role in the findings. Obese girls are 50 percent to 60 percent less physically active than obese boys.
These findings should be of concern for the obese teens when they get older, especially the obese girls, the researchers noted.