Rising level of hypertension in kids

Twice as many children worldwide now have high blood pressure than they did in 2000 amid global obesity crisis


Almost twice as many children now have high blood pressure than they did at the turn of the millennium, according to research. 

Six per cent of youngsters across the globe had hypertension in 2015, compared with three per cent in the 2000s.

Oxford University scientists found the prevalence of the condition among children and teenagers was just one per cent in the 1990s.

The findings, based on data from 47 studies, showed rates of high blood pressure jumped among all children - including six year olds.

The meta-analysis by University of Oxford pooled data from 47 articles published between 1994 and 2018.

The researchers, led by Dr Yajie Zhu, wanted to estimate the worldwide prevalence of high blood pressure in under 19-year-olds.

They found the overall proportion of children who had suffered with the condition was four per cent.

Between 1990 and 1999, around one per cent of children had high blood pressure, according to the findings.

A stark increase was observed over the next two decades, rising to 3.3 per cent in 2000-2009, and six per cent in 2010-2014.

Hypertension was more common among obese or overweight children, striking a 15.3 per cent and five per cent respectively, compared with 1.9 per cent of children in a normal weight range.

Adolescents going through puberty were also more likely to have hypertension – prevalence peaked at 7.9 per cent at age 14.

This could be due to a change in hormones and growth spurts, the authors note, because the rate declines again towards adulthood.

The findings suggest childhood high blood pressure is becoming more common alongside obesity rates. It comes amid a global childhood obesity epidemic, with bulging waistlines and unhealthy diets causing a myriad of health problems.

Katharine Jenner, CEO of Blood Pressure UK says "High blood pressure used to be thought of as an ‘old person’s disease’, not any more.  Unhealthy lifestyle choices such as being overweight, eating too much salt and not enough fruits and vegetables, and not doing enough exercise, are no longer taking 30 or 40 years to manifest, but instead are presenting as diseases such as hypertension in childhood.  

The food industry is shortening our children's lives by drowning us in food and drink full of salt, fat and sugar, advertising it irresponsibly to children and putting it on promotion, and they must be held to account. This should be a stark reminder to the Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock to now commit Public Health England to setting new and ambitious salt targets for 2020, to release the calorie reduction plans and set restrictions on unhealthy food advertising and promotion."

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