Bottom line first
Over the past 20 years, the blood pressure of U.S. kids and teens has increased steadily. This rise corresponds closely with a rise in childhood obesity.
This study in 50 words or less
Researchers combined data on kids' blood pressure gathered from 1963 to 2002. Blood pressure dropped from 1963 to 1988; then it rose through 2002. This increase was linked to obesity, particularly abdominal. Hypertension increased 1 percent over the period; pre-hypertension increased 2.3 percent.
Yes, but. . .
- The report was a complicated statistical analysis of data from many different projects. This type of study is less reliable than a clinical trial.
- Black and Mexican kids were more likely to see an increase in blood pressure than white kids, and boys more likely than girls.
- While a 1 percent increase in diagnoses sounds small, nationally it means about 400,000 additional kids have high blood pressure.
So what are you going to do about it?
Get your child's blood pressure taken. Blood pressure levels for children vary by size, weight, age and other factors. See this previous SharePost about measuring high blood pressure in children for more information.
Watch your child's abdominal circumference. The study found that for every .4 inch of girth, risk of high blood pressure rose 10 percent.
An unrelated study due in a forthcoming issue of the journal Hypertenstion connects children's rising blood pressure with salt consumption. Most sodium in kids' diets comes not from the salt shaker, but from manufactured foods and salty snacks.
The first response to high blood pressure in children is diet and exercise. But high blood pressure in children is very serious, and asymptomatic damage to the cardiovascular system can begin to develop early. If your child is diagnosed, you need to act immediately--and take the diet and exercise recommendations seriously.
Visit our FoodFit website to learn more about healthy eating and healthy cooking, and find recipes for low-sodium and kid-friendly meals.
MyDietExercise.com has lots of great information on the benefits of exercise and tips for getting started.