Rising obesity levels linked to high blood pressure in Chinese children

Economic prosperity decades after a generation of food shortages has led to an epidemic of overfed children in China.  As childhood obesity is on the rise,  so is their blood pressure.

A study tracking BMI and hypertension of  7203 students in Guangzhou found that 70% of schoolchildren categorized as obese  suffer from high blood pressure,  resulting in increased risk for adult coronary heart diseases.

Conducted by Department of Maternal and Child Health at Sun-Yet Sun University, scientists revealed a total of 35.8% of the  children, aged 6-8 years old,  developed hypertension.

“A shockingly high cumulative incidence of hypertension was observed in Chinese overweight and obesity schoolchildren during a follow-up of 4 years,” the study, Relationship of BMI to the incidence of hypertension: a 4 years’ cohort study among children in Guangzhou, 2007–2011, said.

Among the participants labeled overweight, 40% developed hypertension. Boys were slightly more likely to develop hypertension than girls.

Adversely, thin boys had a reduced chance of developing hypertension.  Thin girls were slightly more likely.

With waistlines expanding,  hypertension doesn’t seem to be a problem that’s going to get better on its own.  Over the course of 4 years collecting data, the number of overweight participants almost doubled,  growing from 7.7% to 12.4%.  Likewise, obesity levels rose from 6.3% to 8.3%.

“In China, there has been a dramatic increase in overweight and obesity among children,” it said.

Guangzhou, with a cuisine rich in carbohydrates, salts and fat, as well as healthy seafood, has a slightly higher obesity average than most inland China cities.  Xi’an, for example, has a childhood obesity level of 4.11%.

Large cities such as Shanghai, where wealth is concentrated, registered childhood obesity levels as high as 13.5% and Beijing’s neighbour Tianjin registered at 15.7 %.

Globally, China tends to be on the lower end of the obesity problem, compared with Spain Greece, who  registered school-aged obesity rates at around 30%.   The US has around 25%.

“Different cultures and racial characteristics, and widely disparate eating habits and lifestyles including diet, salt intake and levels of physical activity which would affect incidence of overweight and obesity should been taken into account,” the study said.

It was published on August 14, 2015.

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