HealthDay News — Obese black children have significantly higher blood pressure (BP) than their white peers of the same age and same BMI, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure Research Scientific Sessions in Washington, D.C.

Tamara Hannon, MD, of the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, and colleagues conducted a study involving 821 obese children seen at a tertiary care center-based obesity clinic to evaluate whether there are racial differences in the effect of BMI on BP. Mean patient age was 11.72 years, mean BMI was 36.22 kg/m², and mean systolic and diastolic BP were 109.36 and 69.99 mm Hg, respectively.

Compared with white children, the researchers found that black children had statistically significantly higher mean BMI (37.32 vs. 35.34 kg/m²; P=0.0010) and higher systolic BP percentage (58.71 vs. 50.72 mm Hg; P=0.00062).

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Age and BMI correlated with systolic BP in both white and black children; however, black children had significantly higher BP percentage values than white children of the same age and BMI.

“In conclusion, among children referred for treatment of obesity, there are race-dependent differences in the effect of BMI on blood pressure,” the researchers wrote. “Black children are at a significantly greater risk for having elevated BP as compared with their white peers of similar age and severity of obesity.”

The researchers called for further research to better understand this race-specific effect on BP in order to develop better treatment options and prevention strategies against hypertension in black children.


  1. Zhuokai TH et al. Abstract #462. “The effect of body mass index on blood pressure varies by race among children referred for treatment of obesity.” Presented at: American Heart Association High Blood Pressure Research Meeting. Sept. 21, 2012; Washington, D.C.