Age Factors; Body Composition; Cardiorespiratory Fitness, physiology; Child; Comorbidity; Cross-Sectional Studies; Exercise, physiology; Female; Hand Strength, physiology; Heart Disease Risk Factors; Humans; Hypertension, epidemiology; Male; Overweight, epidemiology; Pediatric Obesity, epidemiology; Physical Fitness, physiology; Poverty; Prehypertension, epidemiology; Prevalence; Sex Factors; Social Class; South Africa, epidemiology
Childhood hypertension drives hypertension in later life; hence, assessing blood pressure in children is an important measure to determine current and future cardiovascular health. There is, however, a paucity of childhood blood pressure data, particularly for sub-Saharan Africa. This study explores blood pressure and associations with age, sex, socioeconomic status, physical activity, fitness, and cardiovascular risk markers. In the 'Disease, Activity and Schoolchildren's Health' (DASH) study, a cross-sectional analysis was conducted in disadvantaged neighbourhoods in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Assessments included blood pressure, accelerometer-measured physical activity, physical fitness, and cardiovascular risk markers. The study consisted of 785 children (383 boys, 402 girls, M = 12.4+/-0.9 years). Overall, 18% of the children were classified as hypertensive, while 20% were either overweight/obese, and almost four out of ten children did not meet global daily physical activity recommendations. Hypertensive children were more likely to be overweight/obese, chi(2) (2,785) = 14.42, p < 0.01, but only if they did not meet physical activity recommendations, chi(2) (2,295) = 11.93, p < 0.01. Considering the moderating effect which sufficient activity has on the relationship between hypertension and body weight, more emphasis should be placed on early primary health intervention and education strategies.