Objective: To determine the prevalence of elevated blood pressure (EBP) in Bahamian adolescents.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey employing a self-administered questionnaire, and concurrently obtaining anthropometric measurements, was conducted involving selected grades 9, 10 and 11 students of all targeted public high schools in The Bahamas. Statistical analyses correlated blood pressure with body mass index (BMI), age and gender.
Results: The mean age of the 785 participants was 14.6 (± 1.153) years, and 87.6% were Bahamian. The prevalence of elevated systolic blood pressure (SBP) was 4.7% and 6.6% for elevated diastolic blood pressure (DBP). Elevated blood pressure prevalence was 8.9%. Elevated blood pressure was more common among grade 9 students (12–14-year olds), who had the largest proportion of EBP (55.7%). Both SBP and DBP increased with age in the males. Overall, students’ prevalence of overweight/obesity was 32.2% (14.4%overweight, 17.8% obese). Body mass index, number of days per week eating fast food and perception of body weight were predictive of EBP. Body mass index, age and perception of body weight were found to be predictive of SBP (βBMI = 0.25, p < 0.001; βAge = 0.14, p < 0.001; βWeight = 0.08, p < 0.037) and DBP (βDBP = 0.192, p < 0.001). Overweight/obese students were 2.7 times more likely to have EBP. Elevated blood pressure was markedly associated with BMI, family history of hypertension and parents’ overweight/obese status.
Conclusion: The estimated prevalence of EBP in adolescent school children in New Providence, Bahamas, was comparable with neighbouring nations.