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Body mass index and blood pressure correlate in nursery school children in Port Harcourt, Nigeria

P.N. Tabansi
K.C. Onyemkpa


Introduction: Blood pressure (BP) is a vital indicator of health in  children and adults. The relationship between body mass index (BMI) and BP is  well established in children; and BMI has been shown to maintain an independent relationship with BP even after controlling for many other variables that characterize individuals. High BMI significantly increases the risk of hypertension. Epidemiological studies in various countries have been conducted to determine the relationship between BP and BMI in children; similar comparative studies are lacking in Nigeria, thus necessitating this study.
Aim: To determine the relationship between BMI and BP in nursery pupils in Port Harcourt.
Methods: Multi-staged sampling technique was used to select 710 nursery pupils from 13 schools. Biodata was obtained using a selfadministered
(parent) questionnaire. Height and weight measurement were taken, and BMI calculated. BP was measured using a mercury sphygmomanometer; and relevant data analysis done.
Result: There were 710 pupils 365 (51.4%) males and 345(48.6%) females. Mean systolic BP was 93.2 ± 10.6mmHg (70–130 mmHg); while mean  diastolic BP was 58.8 ± 8.0mmHg(40 – 88.7 mmHg). Mean BMI was 15.0 ± 1.8 kg/m2(9.1 - 25.5 kg/m2). There is a positive linear relationship between
systolic and diastolic BP and BMI (correlation coefficient r = 0.03). Obese pupils had significantly higher BP rates (25%) (X2= 15.35, p =0.002). BMI and height were significant predictors of diastolic BP (p<0.001).
Conclusion: There is a positive correlation between BMI and BP; and high BMI is an important predictor of high BP in nursery pupils in Nigeria.

Keywords: Blood Pressure, BMI, Nursery pupils, Nigeria