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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

East Tennessee Publishes on Cardiovascular Risk Factors of Hispanic Children

Dr. Basil Alhassan, alumnus of East Tennessee State University’s (ETSU) Doctor of Public Health in Epidemiology program, has published an article in PeerJ. The article, “The influence of maternal body mass index and physical activity on select cardiovascular risk factors of preadolescent Hispanic children” discusses the relationship between maternal physical activity and body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure, physical activity and body mass index (BMI) in Hispanic preadolescents.

[Photo: Dr. Basil Alhassan]

Drs. Ying Liu, Deborah Slawson, Jonathan Peterson, and Arsham Alamian, faculty in the East Tennessee State University College Public Health, are co-authors. Additional co-authors include ETSU faculty members Dr. Joann Marrs of the College of Nursing and William A. Clark of the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences.

Studies have shown physical inactivity, elevated blood pressure, and overweight and obesity track from childhood to adulthood and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke. Maternal obesity and physical inactivity have been identified as correlates of overweight and obesity and physical inactivity in older preadolescents; however, no study has explored this relationship in Hispanic preadolescents. Furthermore, the relation between maternal physical activity and blood pressure in Hispanic preadolescents has not been examined. This study aimed to assess the associations between Hispanic mothers’ physical activity and BMI and their preadolescent children’s physical activity, blood pressure, and BMI.

The researchers, led by Dr. Arsham Alamian, chair of the APPalachian Obesity and METabolic Diseases (APPOMET) Working Group at ETSU, measured the height, weight, waist circumference and blood pressure of 118 Hispanic children enrolled in a metabolic syndrome study in Johnson City, Tennessee. They also obtained a blood sample from the subjects to assess their lipid profile. Further survey data was obtained via questionnaires from 118 mother-child pairs. The investigators determined that about four out of every ten preadolescents were overweight or obese and about three out of ten had elevated blood pressure.

This study also found that preadolescents of obese mothers were 6.47 times more likely than preadolescents of mothers with normal BMI to engage in less than three days of at least 60 min of vigorous physical activity per week.  Compared to preadolescents whose mothers engaged in moderate physical activity, children whose mothers did not engage in moderate physical activity were 2.92 times more likely to engage in less than three days of physical activity per week and were 2.5 times more likely to have elevated blood pressure.

The prevalence of elevated blood pressure among Hispanic preadolescent subjects, especially in 2-to-5-year-olds (45.7 percent) was higher than estimates from national studies. The findings suggest the need for public health interventions that would encourage mothers to increase physical activity and improve weight control as a means for reducing obesity and hypertension in Hispanic preadolescents.