Correlation of Obesity With Elevated Blood Pressure Among Racial/Ethnic Minority Children in Two Los Angeles Middle Schools
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Correlation of Obesity With Elevated Blood Pressure Among Racial/Ethnic Minority Children in Two Los Angeles Middle Schools

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      Introduction To identify anthropometric and fitness correlates of elevated blood pressure, serum cholesterol, and glycated hemoglobin, we examined anthropometric and physiologic biomarkers among racial/ethnic minority children aged 11 to 13 years in two urban Los Angeles middle schools. We explored the potential for using obesity or fitness level as screening variables for cardiovascular disease risk factors in these students. Methods During regularly scheduled physical education classes, we collected data on demographic characteristics, height, weight, blood pressure, nonfasting total serum cholesterol, glycated hemoglobin, time to run/walk 1 mile, and a range of self-reported behaviors. A total of 199 sixth-graders (121 Latinos, 78 African Americans) participated in the study. Results Bivariate analyses indicated that 48.6% of sixth-graders were of desirable weight, 17.5% were overweight, 29.9% were at risk for overweight, and 4.0% were underweight. Higher weight was associated with higher levels of serum cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure (P values for all associations <.02) but not with glycated hemoglobin. Multivariate analyses maintained the findings with regard to blood pressure but not serum cholesterol. Conclusion Overweight status could be a screening variable for identifying youth at risk for high blood pressure. Obesity prevention and intervention programs and policies need to target low-income racial/ethnic minority children. Assessment of hypertension status also seems warranted in low-income racial/ethnic minority sixth-graders, as does early intervention for children at high risk.
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