Our aim in this part of the Sardinian Hypertensive Adolescents Research Programme, also known as the SHARP study, was to use longitudinal screening over a period of 3 years to search for any relationship between hypertension and excessive weight in a number of Southern Italian students. We also sought to establish if this correlation can change according to the criterion used to define children considered to be overweight.
We studied 839 children, of whom 52.6% were male, defining hypertension as an average blood pressure exceeding the 95th percentile according to previous Italian reference tables. We defined those overweight using different criterions, first those with a body mass index exceeding 25 kilograms per square metres, second those with the index exceeding the 85th percentile, third using the references established by Rolland-Cachera, and fourth according to the relative body weight. The different methods used in defining overweight produced very different estimates, ranging from 8.9% to 26.4%. Our novel findings were that systolic hypertension was present in all children deemed overweight using any of the criterions, but only use of the second and third criterions produced results related significantly to both systolic and diastolic hypertension. In short, excessive weight is strongly associated with systolic hypertension in adolescence. Definition of those being overweight on the basis of a body mass index exceeding the 85th percentile, or using the references established by Rolland-Cachera, proved to be best related with both systolic and diastolic hypertension.
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