High Prevalence of Obesity and High Blood Pressure in Urban Student-Athletes

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To assess the prevalence of obesity and hypertension-level blood pressures in an urban, athletic adolescent population using preparticipation physical evaluation (PPE) data.

Study design

The Athlete Health Organization provides free preparticipation physical evaluations to Philadelphia student-athletes via an annual mass-screening event. From 2009 to 2012, Athlete Health Organization personnel performed PPEs on more than 2700 middle school and high school athletes. The PPE included biometric information, a history, and a physical examination. Medical volunteers measured blood pressures using a manual blood pressure cuff with an aneroid manometer. The data from each PPE were collected and analyzed for prevalence of obesity, overweight, and hypertension-level blood pressure readings.


A large percentage of student-athletes were found to be overweight (20%) or obese (24.0%). Many of these athletes also had stage 1 or 2 level blood pressure readings (14.8%), a finding which strongly correlated with elevated body mass index (P < .00001).


The cardiovascular health of this urban adolescent athletic population is a major concern because their rates of obesity and elevated blood pressure place them at increased risk of cardiovascular complications later in life despite their participation in school athletics.

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