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Int J Cardiol. 2007 Oct 1;121(2):171-7. Epub 2007 Jan 29.

Nutritional status, socio-economic status, heart rate, and blood pressure in African school children and adolescents.

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Division of Cardiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. <>



To determine the impact of gender, nutritional anomalies, puberty and socio-economic status on the levels of blood pressure, fat distribution and heat rate in African school children and adolescents. This study also identified the risk factors of arterial hypertension in African adolescents.


A cross-sectional study carried out between April and July 1996.


Randomly selected schools of the semi-urban area of Kinshasa Province, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.


1535 school children and adolescents.


Height, weight, waist circumference, hip circumferences, blood pressure and heart rate were measured. Body mass index, and waist-hip ratio, and Z-scores of NCHS/WHO for different levels of malnutrition were calculated for gender and age.


High rates of malnutrition forms and overweight/obesity coexisted. Boys with chronic malnutrition had significant higher blood pressure levels. Children with pooled types of malnutrition had higher waist circumference, waist-hip ratio and heart rate values. Children from the low socio-economic status had higher blood pressure and heart rate levels than those from high socio-economic status. Overweight/obesity was more (p<0.05) prevalent among female adolescents (68.5%) than male adolescents (24%). Obese male adolescents had higher blood pressure and heart rate levels than their non-obese male counterparts. 39% of variations of systolic blood pressure of male adolescents were explained only by body mass index, whereas 56% of variations of diastolic blood pressure of male adolescents were explained only by age. Only low socio-economic status was identified as a significant risk factor of arterial hypertension among these African adolescents (OR=1.2; 95% CI 1.1 to 1.3; p<0.01).


Intervention strategies to combat poverty and high cardiometabolic risk may need to be developed for these African school children and adolescents.

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