Obesity Hits Girls’ Blood Pressure Harder Than Boys’

(Medical News Today) — Obese girls suffer from more severe hypertension than obese boys during their teenage years, researchers from the University of California at Merced reported in the American Physiological Society conference. Hypertension (high blood pressure) raises the risk of subsequent stroke and heart disease.

Dr Rudy Ortiz PhD, Associate Professor of Physiology and Nutrition, and team studied 1,700 teenage boys and girls aged between 13 and 17 years. They had had their blood pressure measured during a school district health survey. Their weight, height were taken, and therefore BMI (body mass index) was also calculated.

The research team categorized the children as:

  • Normal weight
  • Overweight
  • Obese

The teenagers’ blood pressures were categorized as:

  • Normal
  • Pre-elevated
  • Elevated (high)

People with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese. Sometimes BMI is not 100% accurate in deciding whether somebody is overweight/obese or of normal weight. For example, a 100 meter Olympic gold medalist sprinter may have a higher BMI than a couch potato of the same age and height – but the athlete will have less fat and enjoy better health (muscle weighs more than fat). However, when measuring average body weights of populations of over 1,000 people, BMI is fairly reliable.


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