To describe the current prevalence of paediatric hypertension and the relationships between body mass index, gender, place of residence, and blood pressure in a population of school-aged children from western Romania.
A total of 3626 children from Timisoara and the surrounding regions were examined by medical students from February, 2010 to June, 2011. Children's body mass index was interpreted on the basis of reference guidelines from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Blood pressure measurements were taken by the auscultation method. For defining elevated blood pressure, we used the standards published in the Fourth Report.
Overall, the prevalence of overweight was 14% and 11.8% for obesity. Boys had a higher prevalence of both overweight and obesity compared with girls. The prevalence of hypertension on our screening was 9.1% higher in boys and urban residence. The prevalence of pre-hypertension was 6.5%. With regard to body mass index, 21.1% of obese, 12.8% of overweight, and 7.1% of normal weight children presented hypertension. The strongest determinant of hypertension was body mass index percentile. Significant odds ratio was found for obesity (3.93; confidence interval: 3.11–4.95), urban residence (1.68; confidence interval: 1.35–2.1), and male gender (1.34; confidence interval: 1.12–1.6).
The results confirm a worrisome prevalence of overweight and obesity among children in Romania, accompanied by an alarming prevalence of hypertension. Overweight and obesity, male gender, and urban residence were the major contributing factors for the overall high prevalence of hypertension found. Our results point to the urgent need to adopt strategies aimed at preventing hypertension and obesity in children in Romania.
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