Weight status of children ages 8 to 15 predicts obesity and high blood pressure in adulthood

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“We have known that kids who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for being overweight or obese as adults. But in this paper, we show that even children in the high normal weight range have an elevated risk of becoming overweight or obese as adults,” said lead author Alison Field, assistant professor of pediatrics at HMS and Children’s Hospital Boston.

The researchers recorded the weight, height, and blood pressure of East Boston children from 8 to 15 years old. They were again evaluated eight to 12 years later. Results showed that nearly half of the male subjects and nearly a quarter of the female subjects became overweight or obese between their first visit and their follow-up.

The results also revealed that boys with higher childhood BMI’s were at greater risk for hypertension in young adulthood.

“These findings underscore that even children who are in the high normal weight range may have adverse outcomes later in life, and our challenge may be even greater than we thought,” said Matthew Gillman, senior author on the paper and associate professor of ambulatory care and prevention at Harvard Medical School. He stresses that not only obese children, but also slightly overweight children, demand attention.