Salt consumption and hormones may be culprits that make obese black kids more liable than their white counterparts to get high blood pressure, suggested two recent studies. The most current findings were presented at a recent meeting of the American Heart Association, and the previous study was published in the journal Pediatrics, reported HealthDay News.

For the recent study, researchers evaluated 821 kids referred to an obesity clinic in Indianapolis. The children were on average 12 years old and had an average body mass index, or BMI, of 36. (People with a BMI over 30 are categorized as obese; BMI is based on weight, height, age and gender.)

When scientists compared obese black and white kids of the same height and age, black children’s blood pressure readings were 16 percent higher compared with their white peers. “Black kids really have higher systolic blood pressure at lower BMIs than white children do,” said Tamara Hannon, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist and lead study author.

Systolic blood pressure is the top number in a blood pressure reading and measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. Usually, more attention is paid to the top number of a blood pressure reading as it’s a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease such as hypertension.

But factors beyond BMI might be linked to black kids’ high blood pressure. Hannon said other findings show blood levels of aldosterone—a hormone that regulates blood pressure—may be different between black and white children and between lean and overweight kids.

Another finding showed that youth who consumed high-sodium diets had an associated greater risk of high blood pressure. What’s more, the Pediatrics-published results also showed that children who were overweight or obese seemed to be more salt sensitive than normal-weight kids.

According to Hannon and other researchers, the takeaway here is this: Because African-American kids seem to be at increased risk of hypertension, regardless of their weight, doctors should check their blood pressure more often.

Besides high blood pressure, a number of “older folks’” illnesses are also affecting black children. Click here to read more.