Obesity Increases Health Risks for Teenage Girls

Obesity is more harmful to the health of teenage girls, who have a three-fold higher risk of high blood pressure and increased risk of a future heart attack or stroke, according to a new study.

Obese teenage girls are 3x more likely to have high blood pressureTeenage girls who are obese are three times more likely to have high blood pressure than their non-obese peers, according to a recent study of 1,700 teenagers presented at last week’s American Physiological Society conference.

Researchers examined the body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure records noted in school district health surveys and health checks of teens ages 13 to 17. The findings showed that obese boys were 3.5 times more likely to develop elevated systolic blood pressure, which is the amount of force that blood exerts on blood vessel walls when the heart beats. Similarly, obese girls were nine times more likely than non-obese teens to develop elevated systolic blood pressure.

The combination of a high BMI and high systolic measurements indicate a far greater risk for heart disease and stroke, commented Dr. Rudy Ortiz, Associate Professor of Physiology and Nutrition at the University of California at Merced, who led the study.

“But the findings suggest that obese females may have a higher risk of developing these problems than males,” he noted.

The significant difference between boys and girls may be due to the fact that obese adolescent girls participate in 50% to 60% less physical activity than boys in the population surveyed, Dr. Ortiz said.

The findings are particularly important in light of the growing rate of obesity among children and teens in the United States, which has nearly tripled over the past 25 years. Today, about 17% of American children and teens are obese, and 32% are overweight.

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