Obesity and increased blood pressure are identified as risk factors for cardiac and pulmonary disorders. On the other hand, iron deficiency (another preventable disease) is common in adolescence and considered as associated with health impairment. The present study evaluates body mass index (BMI) and its association with blood pressure and hematological indices in freshman students entering the University of Isfahan in 2009.
All the 1675 students who entered the University of Isfahan in September 2009 were examined. Height, weight, BMI, blood pressure, hemoglobin (Hb) and red blood cell (RBC) indices of these students were measured. The prevalence of high blood pressure, its association with BMI and the relation between BMI and anemia, iron deficiency and educational achievement were assessed.
All participants, including 514 males and 1161 females, went under clinical observations. The average age was 20.7 ± 3.8. year Among the students, 18.2% of males and 20% of females were underweight. High systolic blood pressure was more common in the students with BMI > 25 kg/m2 (p < 0.001). Anemia was seen in 8.7% of females. In males, however, a relation between anemia frequency and BMI < 18.5 kg/m2 was more distinct (p = 0.002). There was no association between anemia and students’ average test scores.
High incidence of abnormal BMI in the study population, and its association with systolic blood pressure indicate the importance of nutritional guidelines and counseling programs for freshman students. On the other hand, high incidence of anemia in this population ascertains the necessity of anemia screening programs before academic studies.