Malnutrition is associated with increased blood pressure in childhood

Nephron Clin Pract. 2004;97(2):c61-6. doi: 10.1159/000078402.


Background/aims: Protein-energy malnutrition remains a major public health problem in many countries. Scanty information is available about the effects of malnutrition during childhood on blood pressure (BP).

Methods: In a cross-sectional study we assessed the BP of 172 children older than 2 years living in shantytowns in São Paulo city. Ninety-one children were malnourished (height-for-age or weight-for-age Z-score below -1 of the NCHS references); 20 had recovered from malnutrition after an average time of 6.4 years, and 61 were non-malnourished controls.

Results: A greater percentage of children in the malnourished and recovered groups had increased systolic or diastolic BP (>95th percentile of the Update of the 2nd Task Force references) after adjusting for age, sex and height, compared to the controls (29, 20 and 2%, respectively, p < 0.001). Mean diastolic BP, adjusted for age, sex, race, weight, height and birth weight, was significantly increased in malnourished and recovered children compared to controls (65.2 +/- 0.6, 66.5 +/- 1.5, and 61.8 +/- 0.8 mm Hg, respectively, p < 0.01).

Conclusions: BP is increased in malnourished children and in those who recovered from malnutrition after an average period of 6 years. Malnutrition occurring during childhood may represent a risk factor for increased BP later in life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anthropometry
  • Blood Pressure
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / complications*
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / ethnology
  • Hypertension / etiology*
  • Male
  • Regression Analysis