Elevated blood pressure in adolescent girls: Correlation to body size and composition

Ashley L. Devonshire, Erin R. Hager, Maureen M. Black, Marie Diener-West, Nicholas Tilton, Soren Snitker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: To improve understanding of the pathophysiology of hypertension in adolescents and pave the way for risk stratification, studies have sought to determine the correlates of blood pressure (BP). Inconsistencies in dependent and independent variables have resulted in an elusive consensus. The aim of this report is to examine an inclusive array of correlates of BP, as a continuous (systolic and diastolic BP) and a dichotomous variable. Methods: Subjects were a school-based sample of 730 urban, mostly African American, non-referred 6th and 7th grade girls. To find independent correlates of SBP/DBP, we used a stepwise model selection method based on the Schwarz Bayesian Information Criterion, enabling selection of a parsimonious model among highly correlated covariates. Candidate variables were: age, stature, heart rate, pubertal development, BMI, BMI z-score, waist circumference, waist-to-height ratio (WHtR), body surface area, fat mass (by bioelectrical impedance analysis), fat-free mass (FFM), percentage of body fat, and presence of overweight/obesity. Results: The best-fitting models for DBP and SBP (considered separately) included fat-free mass, heart rate and, in the case of SBP, stature. The best-fitting model for high-normal/elevated blood pressure (H-N/EBP) included WHtR with no independent relation of any other variable. The prevalence of H-N/EBP tripled between a WHtR of 0.5 and 0.7. Conclusions: The easily obtained and calculated WHtR is the strongest correlate of elevated blood pressure among available variables and is a prime candidate for longitudinal studies of predictors of the development of hypertension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number78
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 26 2016


  • Anthropometry
  • Fat-free mass
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Waist-to-height ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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