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    Posted March 31, 2014 by
    New York, New York

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    Childhood obesity prevention programs significantly lower blood pressure

    Greater reductions found in programs with diet and physical activity

    Childhood obesity is foremost risk for high blood pressure in children. Obese children quadruple their risk and overweight children double their risk of developing high blood pressure in adulthood, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association High Blood Pressure Research Scientific Sessions 2013.

    Even modest elevations in the BP of adolescents, according to recent research, can pose cardiovascular problems later in life. However, little is known about how childhood obesity lifestyle prevention programs affect blood pressure (BP).

    Dr. Youfa Wang, MD, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, University of Buffalo along with colleagues from other institutions including Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health had assessed the effects of childhood obesity prevention programs on BP in children in developed countries.

    For this systematic review and meta-analysis researchers searched databases up to April 22, 2013 for relevant randomized controlled trials, quasi-experimental studies, and natural experiments. Intervention effects were calculated for systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) using weighted random effects models.

    The researchers found among the 28 intervention studies with complete data involving 18,925 participants, the combined effect was 1.64 mmHg for systolic blood pressure (top number of reading) and 1.44 mmHg for diastolic (bottom number).

    Interventions that combined diet and physical activity led to a significantly greater reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared to interventions that were diet or physical activity only.

    According to Dr. Wang "Of the 28 obesity interventions with complete data that we analyzed, 13 (46 percent) had a favorable effect on both adiposity and BP and 11 interventions (39 percent) had a significant effect on the reduction of BP, even if they did not affect adiposity.” "It is important to identify obesity intervention programs that can help children develop healthy lifestyles and keep BP at an optimal level," he says, "because these programs help them avoid many long-term health consequences."

    The researchers write in their conclusion “Obesity prevention programs have a moderate effect on reducing BP and those targeting at both diet and physical activity seem to be more effective.”

    Dr. Wang’s research team currently based at the University of Buffalo ,are working on projects in the U.S. and abroad funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that aim to assess the additional benefits of obesity prevention programs for children and to develop the most effective programs possible.

    Dr. Wang and his team established a Global Center of Excellence on childhood obesity and NCDs research, training and outreach in 2011 at Hopkins with a $16 million NIH U54 center grant and additional institutional co-funding.

    The team also is using transnational comparison studies to analyze factors suspected of contributing to the global obesity epidemic.

    This study is published in Circulation, an American Heart Association journal.

    Materials provided by the University of Buffalo.
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