Think high blood pressure is something only adults have to worry about? If that is your opinion, a new study suggests you might want to reconsider it.

Over the past twenty years, Americans have witnessed the growth of an obesity epidemic among children and adolescents, says Bernarn Rosner, professor of biostatistics at HarvardMedicalSchool and lead author of a paper published this summer on health information for almost 12,000 children ages eight to seventeen.

Two sets of data, one from 1988 to 1994 and the other set from 1999 to 2008, allowed researchers to compare health statistics collected over the past two decades. There has been nearly a ten percent increase in childhood obesity among boys and girls during this twenty year time period,  and notable increases in waist circumferences, particularly for girls. Children with body mass or waistline measurements in the top twenty-five percent of their age group are twice as likely to have high blood pressure as those in the bottom twenty-five percent range.

The study found that changes in eating habits over the last two decades have dramatically increased children’s risk of stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure. This was particularly attributable to the fact that processed foods have become a major part of most people’s diet, skyrocketing daily sodium intake to well above the recommended levels. About sixteen percent of the children in the study had “elevated” blood pressure. Over eighty percent of the children reported eating over 2,300 mg of salt, the daily recommended intake. Children with the greatest sodium intake were almost forty percent more likely to have high blood pressure.

This study, published in Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association, demonstrates a clear connection between high salt intake and high blood pressure in children, something which had previously only been confirmed among adults.


Read the entire article here: Elevated blood pressure increasing among children