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Obesity may harm teenage girls more than boys


Summary of story from BBC online, October 14, 2011

Obesity has a greater impact on the blood pressure of teenage girls than on teenage boys, a US study has suggested.

High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke in later life.

A study of 1,700 teenagers, presented to the American Physiological Society conference, found girls had three times the risk of higher blood pressure.

A British Heart Foundation spokeswoman said a third of young people in the UK were overweight or obese.

The teenagers, aged between 13 and 17 had their blood pressure measured as part of school district health surveys and health checks. Their body mass index (BMI) – a measure of weight/height ratio – was also recorded.

Dr Rudy Ortiz, who led the study, said: “Overall, there is a higher likelihood that those who present with both higher BMI and blood pressure will succumb to cardiovascular complications as adults.

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

Dr Ortiz said the significant difference between boys and girls could be explained by exercise levels.

“Obese adolescent females participate in 50 to 60% less physical activity than boys in the population surveyed.”

Natasha Stewart, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Here we have yet more evidence highlighting the danger that obesity poses to the health of our children.

“Based on this American study alone, it’s too early to say for sure whether girls are more at risk than boys, but we do know girls tend to be less active than boys which could play a part.

“What is certain is that obesity is clearly putting both boys’ and girls’ health at risk,” she said.

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