The global epidemic of childhood and adolescent obesity in developing and developed countries has become a major public health concern. Given the relationship between obesity and hypertension as documented in several landmark studies, it is no surprise that, as the prevalence of obesity has increased in the pediatric population, rates of hypertension have also increased substantially. Hypertension is one of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and stroke; therefore, evaluation and initiation of appropriate treatment are extremely important in the pediatric population. Evaluation for secondary causes of hypertension, including renovascular, renoparenchymal, and endocrine disease, is the approach most commonly utilized in health care settings with the goal to detect abnormalities that already have or might, if left unrecognized, affect the physical health of the child in the future. Children and adolescents are commonly evaluated for organic disease even in. situations where secondary hypertension is unlikely and overweight or obesity is most likely the primary factor contributing to hypertension. Psychological and psychosocial factors, which may play an important role in the etiology of obesity and related blood pressure elevation, are often addressed inadequately or completely ignored, potentially reducing long-term therapy success and increasing the incidence of avoidable complications. It is proposed that a comprehensive evaluation by a behavioral health provider will improve outcomes and potentially reduce long-term morbidity and hypertension-related end organ disease. A framework for mental health evaluation is provided.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Adolescence and Chronic Illness. A Public Health Concern. Hatim Omar, Donald E. Greydanus, Dilip R. Patel, & Joav Merrick, (Eds.). p. 189-200.

©2010 Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

The copyright holder has granted permission for posting the chapter here.

Reprinted as an article in International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, v. 20, no. 1, p. 5-15.