Health Team

Adolescent aerobic fitness, BMI tied to risk of hypertension as adult

Posted January 26

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— For many years now, overweight trends among children have been going up, and it's also a problem among older teenagers.

New research looked at teens' increased risk of developing high blood pressure. The study published in the Journal JAMA Internal Medicine looked specifically at boys in their late teens who have a high body mass index and a low aerobic fitness level.

Researchers say that combination presents concerns for the future.

"If you were an overweight, not very fit teen, you grew up to be a hypertensive adult," said Dr. Ellen Rome, a pediatrician from the Cleveland Children's Clinic.

Researchers looked at more than 1.5 million 18-year-old boys enlisted in the military in Sweden between 1969 and 1997. The men were assessed for aerobic fitness, muscular strength and BMI. The subjects were followed from late adolescence through adulthood.

Results showed that high BMI and low aerobic fitness in late adolescence were associated with higher risk for high blood pressure in adulthood.

Low aerobic fitness was also a hypertension risk factor among men with a normal BMI.

Rome said a healthy diet and aerobic fitness should be emphasized early with children to prevent future health problems.

"If we as a community and individual parents and families help hardwire good, healthy strategies from birth onward, it makes it easier to avoid having hypertensive adults," Rome said.


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