Background: Limited data are available from India regarding the distribution and profile of childhood obesity and hypertension. We examined the time trends in childhood obesity in a representative sample of schoolchildren from Ernakulam District, Kerala and determined the relationship of obesity with blood pressure.
Methods: We used a stratified random cluster sampling method to select the children. Anthropometric data were collected from 24 842 students, 5-16 years of age, during 2003-04. Blood pressure and anthropometric data were collected from 20 263 students during 2005-06. Overweight and obesity were defined by body mass index for gender and age. Gender, age and height were considered for determining hypertension.
Results: The proportion of overweight children increased from 4.94% of the total students in 2003 to 6.57% in 2005 (OR: 1.36; 95% CI: 1.25-1.47; p < 0.0001). The increase was significant in both boys and girls. The proportion of overweight children was significantly higher in urban regions and in private schools, and the rising trend was limited to private schools. Systolic or diastolic incident hypertension was found in 17.34% of overweight children versus 10.1% of the remaining students (OR: 1.87; 95% CI: 1.60-2.17; p < 0.0001).
Conclusion: Childhood obesity showed an increasing trend in a short period of 2 years. Hypertension was common in overweight children. The results suggest the need for greater public awareness and prevention programmes on childhood obesity and hypertension.