The relationship of body mass index (BMI) and weight status to hypertension in a cohort of elementary school students: A retrospective longitudinal study
Pullis, Bridgette Crotwell
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This study investigated the relationship between childhood body mass index (BMI), ethnicity, gender, and hypertension in a cohort of fourth-grade students. Specifically, this study longitudinally tracked the weight of 327 children in the first grade and later in the fourth grade to determine if students who were at risk for overweight or who were overweight in the first grade also tended to remain at risk for overweight or be overweight (as reflected by BMI) when they were in the fourth grade. This study also investigated the relationship between childhood weight and hypertension of these students as fourth-graders. From the population of 629 students who had been first-graders and later fourth-graders in a school district located in south-central Texas, 327 (52%) had complete health-related information on record that was needed in order to conduct the statistical analyses used in this study. Thirty-seven research hypotheses were structured and presented in null form. Appropriate inferential statistical tests were then employed to evaluate each of the hypotheses in this study in order to generate the research findings. One can determine as early as the first grade personal characteristics of students that might lead to or be associated with being overweight or being at risk for overweight by the fourth grade. Being overweight or at risk for overweight as a first-grade student and/or as a fourth-grade student is significantly related to an elevated blood pressure (systolic and also diastolic) compared to those students who are not overweight or at risk for overweight. One's ethnicity is also significantly related to one's body mass index. First-grade students in this study who were overweight or at risk for overweight were over four times more likely to be overweight or at risk for overweight in the fourth grade than were the first-grade students in this study who were not overweight or at risk for overweight. First-grade students as well as fourth-grade students in this study who were overweight or at risk for overweight were approximately three times more likely to be hypertensive or prehypertensive than were the fourth-grade students in this study who were not overweight or at risk for overweight. Given that there are "early warning signs" (as early as the first grade) for potential health-care problems, researchers in the health-care profession must explore ways that might decrease the proportion of students who are overweight or at risk for overweight and who may be leading unhealthy lifestyles.