Mental health, anthropometry and blood pressure among adolescents living in slums of Nashik, India
Background: Both hypertension and depression are common disorders and obesity is on the rise in low and middle-income countries. Because early life changes may prove to be precursors to the development of diseases in adult, assessing the mental and physical health of younger population is crucial. This study aimed to determine the association between blood pressure, mental health and anthropometric status of adolescents from urban slums in Nashik, India.
Methods: A cross-sectional observational study was conducted among eligible adolescents during November 2010 and April 2011 in two randomly selected slums of Nashik, Maharashtra, India. A total of 545 adolescents were selected from 276 households. Data on socio-demographic indicators, anthropometry, blood pressure, mental wellbeing, and addictions were collected using pretested structured questionnaires by house visits. Mental wellbeing was examined using the General Health Questionnaire with 12 items (GHQ-12). A higher score indicates more-optimal mental wellbeing. Linear mixed effects models were used to analyse the data.
Results: Girls had better mental wellbeing scores than boys. Adolescents with low mental wellbeing score had higher percentage of stunting (22%) compared to high scores. The factors associated significantly with systolic blood pressure (SBP) were age, mid mental wellbeing score, stunting, and thinness. For diastolic blood pressure (DBP), sex, high mental wellbeing score, and father's education were, in addition, also significant. When moving from the low to mid mental wellbeing score, SBP and DBP decreased and the same was observed for high score. The prevalence of prehypertension was 20%.
Conclusion: The findings showed that the adolescents do run a higher risk of substance abuse, health-related problems and higher SBP and DBP if there is an evidence of distress. It brings into focus the importance of mental health management in adolescents.