Childhood obesity and elevated blood pressure in a rural population of northern Greece
Citation: Mavrakanas TA, Konsoula G, Patsonis I, Merkouris BP. Childhood obesity and elevated blood pressure in a rural population of northern Greece. Rural and Remote Health 9: 1150. (Online) 2009. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au
Introduction: The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of childhood obesity and elevated blood pressure (BP) in a rural population of northern Greece.
Methods: In total, 572 schoolchildren between the age of 4 and 10 years were examined. Obesity was defined using three different standards: (1) body mass index (BMI) charts of the French society of Paediatrics (FR), selected because of the low cardiovascular risk profile and low prevalence of obesity in France; (2) United States BMI CDC charts (US), selected because of the high prevalence of childhood obesity in the USA; and the reference curves of the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF). Children with elevated BP were defined as BP ≥95th percentile for age, gender and height, according to the Greek national charts.
Results: The prevalence of obesity for boys was 13.6% (IOTF), 23.7% (US) and 31.7% (FR); for girls 14.4% (IOTF), 21.1% (US) and 35.1% (FR). The prevalence of elevated BP was 7.9% (45 children). It was 5 to 6 times more common for obese than non-obese children to have elevated BP (relative risk of 5.2 to 6.2 and odds ratio 6.3 to 7.7).
Conclusions: The results confirm the high prevalence of childhood obesity in Greece, in this study found to be more prevalent in rural than urban Greece. The IOTF criteria tend to underestimate obesity and may not be optimal for use in a primary clinical care setting where the approach is for health education and patient treatment, rather than purely epidemiological. The study also confirms a strong relationship between high BP and increased BMI.
Key words: blood pressure, childhood obesity, Greece, obesity definition, overweight.
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