Childhood Undernutrition: A Neglected Contributor to High Blood Pressure in Adulthood
Monday March 16, 2020 (4:00 PM – 5:00 PM)
Professor of Anthropology
University of Michigan
High blood pressure (BP) is the greatest single contributor to the global burden of disease, and is of increasing prevalence in populations transitioning to obesogenic lifestyles. In low- and middle-income countries, concern that high body mass index (BMI) in childhood will track into adulthood and elevate BP, has left a gap in knowledge about the role of undernutrition. Using data from a 20-year prospective cohort study in Mali (N = 1344), we show that for adults of normal weight, increased BP was substantially attributable to undernutrition in childhood. Catch-up growth was associated with lower adult BP and later exposure to undernutrition in childhood was more adverse than was exposure during the first 1000 days of life. The lowest BP (by > 7 mm Hg) in young adulthood was observed in participants whose BMI was larger in childhood, but smaller in adulthood. The policy implication is that interventions to alleviate undernutrition should extend beyond the first 1000 days of life.