Background: Because the elevated blood pressure (BP) in childhood is strongly associated with overweight and is a risk factor for later cardiovascular disease, a need to comprehend the early development of BP and its association with overweight is needed. We assessed differences of BP by weight status in Australian toddlers.
Methods: From the Get-Up! Study in Australia, this sample included 265 toddlers (136 boys), aged 19.6 ± 4.2 months. BP was measured with a digital vital signs monitor. Participants were categorized as nonoverweight and overweight according to the World Health Organization definition for body mass index (BMI). Physical activity was captured with activPAL accelerometers, during childcare hours. To test differences in BP between nonoverweight and overweight children, we performed an analysis of covariance adjusting for sex, age, physical activity, and socioeconomic status.
Results: Children with overweight showed higher z systolic BP values (P = .042 for BMI and P = .023 for waist circumference) when compared to nonoverweight children. However, no differences were found for z diastolic BP levels, between overweight and nonoverweight children. After adjustments for potential confounders (socioeconomic status, physical activity, sex, and age), there were no significant differences in BP variables between BMI and waist circumference groups.
Conclusions: No associations between adiposity and BP levels were found in this sample. The unadjusted results, however, showed that children with higher levels of adiposity (BMI and waist circumference) exhibited higher levels of BP. Additional research is needed to determine which environmental and genetic factors might contribute to pediatric hypertension, particularly among toddlers.