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Background. Hypertension, a consistently elevated systolic and diastolic blood pressure, is a global health problem and may have had its origins in early life. Research suggests that socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with hypertension in childhood and adolescents. However, pathways through which SES leads to hypertension in adolescents are not clearly established.
Objective. To examine the relationship between SES and hypertension in adolescents and identify the possible pathways between SES and hypertension among adolescents in South Africa.
Methods. We analysed cross-sectional data from the South African Demographic 2016 and Health Survey of 1062 adolescents aged 15 to 19 years. SES was based on wealth quintiles. Multivariable logistic regression models and generalizeised structural equation modelling (GSEM) were employed to examine the relationship between SES and hypertension in adolescence in STATA 16.1.
Results. The unadjusted and adjusted relationships between SES and hypertension were not statistically significant. The GSEM suggested that age and BMI were the only factors that were directly associated with hypertension with OR = 0.72 (95% CI: 0.63 - 0.82) and OR = 1.06 (95% CI: 1.02 - 1.11) respectively. Being female had a significant indirect effect on hypertension with OR = 1.18 (1.03 – 1.36).
Conclusion. Although there was no association between SES and hypertension, the correlates of hypertension in this age group are sex specific. This emphasizeises a need for further social epidemiology research on hypertension in this age group, preferably with other proxies of socioeconomic status besides the wealth index.
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