Objective: To determine whether an association of overweight, or risk of overweight, and blood pressure can be detected in children in the pediatric primary care practice setting.
Study design: We examined electronic medical record (EMR) data from primary care practices on 18,618 children age 2 to 19 years. Each child was classified on the basis of age- and sex-specific body mass index (BMI) percentile as normal weight (BMI < 85th percentile), at risk for overweight (BMI > or = 85th and < 95th percentile), or overweight (BMI > or = 95th percentile). BMI Z-score and height Z-score were computed. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures were compared among age-sex-BMI groups.
Results: Among children in primary care pediatric practices, 16.7% were at risk of overweight and 20.2% were overweight. With increasing BMI status there was a significant increase in both systolic blood pressure (P < .001) and diastolic blood pressure (P < .001). The association of higher blood pressure with increasing BMI status was present in all age groups.
Conclusions: Clinical data from pediatric primary care practices verify the high prevalence of childhood overweight. The effect of overweight on blood pressure is present in childhood and can be detected even in children as young as 2 to 5 years.