Purpose: The aim of the present study was to report for the first time the prevalence of hypertension and its phenotypes in obese children and in children with central obesity in a large sample of Greek children.
Methods: A regionally representative sample of 2263 schoolchildren (50.3% boys) (9-13 years) having full data on blood pressure assessment, physical examination, anthropometric, and physical activity participated in a cross-sectional study in Greece.
Results: Prevalence of stage 1 and 2 hypertension, of isolated systolic hypertension (ISH) and of combined systolic or diastolic hypertension, was significantly higher for obese children and children on the 3rd tertile of waist circumference in the total sample, as well as in each gender separately. ISH was the most prevalent phenotype reaching 24.3% in obese children and 17.5% in children on the highest tertile of waist circumference. Obese children and children on the highest tertile of waist circumference had 6.31 times and 3.94 times, respectively, higher likelihood to have abnormal systolic or diastolic blood pressure (SBP or DBP) than their normal-weight counterparts.
Conclusions: Prevalence of hypertension and especially ISH in obese children and in children with central obesity in Greece are among the highest reported in Europe. Future public health initiatives should aim to prevent or tackle several underlying factors related to childhood hypertension, focusing primarily on children with excess body weight.
Keywords: Adolescent hypertension; Central obesity; Childhood hypertension; Childhood obesity; Overweight.